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Sen. Kamala Harris Shut Down by Committee Chairman While Grilling a Justice Department Official

In the middle of grilling a Justice Department official in a high-profile, televised Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on June 7, Sen. Kamala Harris was cut off and admonished by the committee’s chairman for not allowing the official to answer.

The hearing involved leaders of the FBI, National Security Agency and Justice Department, and the director of National Intelligence being questioned about whether President Donald Trump has attempted to intervene in ongoing investigations into Russian election interference.

During the proceedings, Harris, a California Democrat, repeatedly asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein whether he would sign a letter to give Special Counsel Robert Mueller full independence from the Justice Department.

“Yes or no, sir,” Harris again asked. “Are you willing to do …”

“Will the senator suspend?” interjected Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s chair.

“The chair,” he added, “is going to exercise its right to allow the witnesses to answer the question, and the committee is on notice to provide the witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended all the way across, extend the courtesy for questions to get answered.”

That prompted a look of disbelief on her face and reportedly brought a hush over the packed room.

“Mr. Chairman, respectfully, I would point out that this witness has joked, as we all have, his ability to filibuster,” said Harris, before Burr stopped her again.

A number of people covering the hearing pointed out that other senators had interrupted those testifying, but that Harris, one of just three women on the committee and the former California attorney general, was the only senator admonished.

“Only one, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), was cut off by the committee’s chair,” said Alice Ollstein of Talking Points Memo.

“Another day, another time a woman is chastised for doing the exact same thing her male colleagues got away with without criticism, ” wrote Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez of Rifinery 29.

Following the hearing, Harris wrote in Twitter message that she refused to be deterred from getting the truth.

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