While Sen. Kamala Harris of California was busy questioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the legal basis for his refusal to answer myriad questions concerning conversations he may have had with President Donald Trump, she was, once again, interrupted by Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
This week, Burr’s admonishment was more measured and was directed at both Sens. McCain and Harris.
The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, then quickly stepped in: “Senators, we’ll allow the chair to control the hearing. Sen. Harris, let him answer the question.”
Sen. Harris has twice now been interrupted and admonished by male colleagues in a single week for her (highly effective) questioning tactics during the hearings.
Last week, a nearly identical scene played out, with McCain cutting in on Harris while she was aggressively questioning Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein about whether he would ensure Special Counsel Robert Mueller complete independence from the Department of Justice while he was investigating Russian attacks on the 2016 electoral process and the Trump campaign’s role in those attacks.
At the time, Burr followed McCain’s interruption with a rebuke to Harris, telling her to stop and let Rosenstein answer. Rosenstein was then permitted to drone on and avoid answering the question definitively.
Sen. McCain, you may remember, also made headlines last week after his questioning of former FBI director James Comey took a bizarre and confusing turn, when the senator seemed to conflate the FBI’s investigation of Russian election interference with its Hillary Clinton email probe.
Sessions spent most of this Tuesday’s public hearing dodging questions, citing what he claimed was a “longstanding” DOJ “policy,” which prevented him from commenting on his private conversations with President Trump.
When Harris asked Sessions to point to the policy as written, Sessions began to explain the “principle” behind it.
“Sir, I am not asking you about the principle,” Harris replied. “I am asking… when you knew that you would be asked these questions and you would rely on that policy… did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer the majority of questions we are asking you?”
And just like last week, Sen. Harris never got a simple “yes or no” answer to her question. After allowing AG Sessions to discuss the so-called principle at length, chairman Burr cut her off, saying her time had expired. Nevertheless, she persisted, tweeting this out after the hearing:
It was a simple question. Can Sessions point to the policy, in writing, that allows him to not answer a whole host of our questions today.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 13, 2017
It’s beginning to look as though McCain’s special presence at the hearings may have more than a little purpose, after all.
– Danielle Bizzarro