Harris has subjected Trump’s allies – and even Joe Biden – to rigorous cross-examination. We choose her best moments
On Tuesday, Donald Trump referred to Kamala Harris as a “nasty woman”, referencing her 2018 grilling of Brett Kavanaugh over allegations – denied by Kavanaugh – that the now supreme court justice attempted to rape Dr Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers.
Nasty or “not nice” seem to be words Trump reserves for women who hold men in power to account: Trump similarly insulted Hilary Clinton during the 2016 election race, when she hinted at his reluctance to publish his tax returns. Trump also ordered female reporters who question him to “be nice” and has previously said it was not “nice” to call a woman “tough”.
But Harris, who was previously California’s top prosecutor – for which she has drawn criticism – doesn’t like to go easy on her opponents. In fact, she routinely subjects them to strong and thorough cross-examination.
Here’s a list of her “nastiest” – or, depending on how you view it, strongest – lines of questioning.
Questioning Brett Kavanaugh
Kavanaugh was questioned over a four-day confirmation hearing in relation to Dr Ford’s allegations – during which Harris’s questioning was a standout moment. Her blistering questions propelled her into the spotlight: Kavanaugh squirmed as Harris asked whether he would request an FBI investigation into the claims; whether men who have female friends can still do harmful things to other women; and whether he even bothered to watch Dr Ford’s testimony (he didn’t).
Making Jeff Sessions nervous
In 2017, during investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the then attorney general, Jeff Sessions, seemed to have a memory problem. He didn’t remember anyone he met. He prefaced many of his answers with “to the best of my recollection”, and even in his written testimony, he wrote of not remembering key details. When Harris repeatedly pressed Sessions on his refusal to answer questions, he said her questioning was making him nervous.
William Barr didn’t see it coming
During the Mueller investigation, Harris flexed her legal muscle when it came to grilling Sessions’ successor as attorney general, William Barr. Her quick questioning, willingness to elaborate, and refusal to be sidetracked when he pretended not to understand were all prime viewing for someone who wants to see how a nasty woman goes about not letting a man off the hook.
She even grilled Biden
If it’s true that you should be with someone who challenges you, Biden has made the right decision in choosing Harris as his running mate. During the Democratic race, he and Harris frequently went toe-to-toe. When Biden came under fire for working with segregationist senators to oppose bussing, he said he was backed by the only African American woman ever in the Senate – completely forgetting about Harris. She interjected: “No, the other one is here.”
Her standout moment came when she gave frank testimony about the impact of bussing on her own life, showing grace and grit as she held Biden to account.