California Sen. Kamala Harris has once again shown a room of old white men how to do their damn jobs. This time around she was the only senator to hold skittish Keebler Elf Jeff Sessions accountable during his astonishingly numb and condescending testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
As Congress investigates Russia’s interference with the US election, Sessions appeared before Congress to testify on his undisclosed conversations with Russian officials throughout the campaign. Democrats have not forgotten that in his confirmation hearing for attorney general, Sessions, a former Trump campaign advisor, falsely told Congress that he had no contact with Russian officials during the campaign. As attorney general, he also wrote a letter recommending that Trump fire former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump later admitted to firing, in part, because Comey was digging into “the Russia thing.” (Before the hearing began, Harris wrote on Twitter, “Since it came to light Sessions misled during his testimony in front of the Senate, I have called on him to resign.”)
That leaves a lot of troubling, important questions for Sessions to answer. Except that when it was time to testify, the nation’s most powerful law enforcement officer and top lawyer had about as many lame excuses as a middle schooler who forgot his homework for the 30th time. If Sessions did not reply that he “couldn’t recall” or “couldn’t remember” a conversation, then he refused to answer questions on grounds of so-called executive privilege.
Harris was the only senator to call bullshit. She tried to pin Sessions down on what notes he took—calendar appointments, memos, emails—about these critical conversations and meetings, and asked him to submit them to the committee. He dodged, eventually giving a wishy-washy assurance that he will give “documents” pending a conversation with lawyers as to what is “appropriate.”
Then Harris challenged what no other senator dared to challenge—Sessions’s “executive privilege”:
HARRIS: You referred to a longstanding DOJ policy. Can you tell us what policy it is you are talking about?
SESSIONS: Well, I think most cabinet people, as the witnesses you had before you earlier, those individuals declined to comment bc we’re all about conversations with the president—
HARRIS: Sir, I’m just asking you about the DOJ policy you are referring to.
SESSIONS:...because that’s a longstanding policy that goes beyond just the attorney general.
HARRIS: Is that policy in writing somewhere?
SESSIONS: I think so.
HARRIS: So did you not consult it before you came before this committee, knowing we would ask you questions about that?
SESSIONS: Well, we talked about it. The policy is based—
HARRIS: Did you ask that it would be shown to you?
SESSIONS: The policy is based on the principle that the president—
HARRIS: Sir, I am not asking about the principle. I am asking when you knew that you would be asked these questions and you would rely on this policy, did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for you refusing to answer the majority of questions that have been asked of you?
It was at this point, in her last question, when other Senators interrupted her to come to the defense of the poor old white guy with the bad memory. They did not, of course, so rudely cut off any of the men who spoke beyond their allotted time before her.
But Harris got in the last word. “Did you ask your staff to see the policy?” she asked. “Apparently not.”