Sen. Kamala Harris: Not backing down is in ex-prosecutor’s DNA

Kamala Harris questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions during an open hearing conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

Kamala Harris has served as freshman senator for only six months, but she’s not wasting time sitting in the shadows.

For the second time in a week, the Democratic senator made headlines after she was interrupted by Republican counterparts during Senate Intelligence Committee hearings.

Last week, Sens. Richard Burr and John McCain of Arizona cut her off as she questioned Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. Both men did it again on Tuesday, as she questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Here’s a look at Harris’ resume:

Objective

Question Trump administration officials during hearings despite interruptions by Republican colleagues.

Education

Her college education spans two coasts — with a bachelor of arts from Howard University in DC, and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings.

Biographical details

Harris, 52, was born in Oakland, California. Her mother and father were immigrants from India and Jamaica, respectively. Her parents met as civil rights activists at the University of California-Berkeley, and got Harris involved in fighting for social justice when she was a baby by wheeling her to protests in a stroller. “I grew up with a stroller’s-eye view of the civil rights movement, and often I joke that as a child, I was surrounded by adults marching and shouting for this thing called justice,” she says on her website.

Qualifications

Harris is a former San Francisco prosecutor, and is at home at hearings. So her rapid-fire shots aimed at Sessions may not be a surprise for someone with a background that involved questioning witnesses. She has made her name in high-profile state positions, serving as the district attorney in San Francisco and also as state attorney general. She’s been vocal about her criticism of Trump and denounced his agenda during a march in Washington a day after his inauguration. Harris says she’s never been a fan of the word “can’t.” Most of her life, she says, she has defied suggestions that’s “it’s not your turn. It’s not your time.” She is California’s first African-American senator and the first Indian-American senator in the country.

Other honors

This is not Harris’ first national platform. In September 2012, she took the stage at the Democratic National Convention, where she slammed President Barack Obama’s political opponents. Her name has come up as a 2020 presidential candidate, but Harris, 52, dismisses talk about a future run. “I’m absolutely not thinking about that at all,” she told CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod. Whether she runs or not, she’s already making a difference. “Her voice isn’t just a good one, it’s a necessary one to help capture all the energy and enthusiasm that Democrats on the left have right now,” said Bill Burton, Democratic strategist and former Obama adviser. Harris has been described as a fresh face for a party desperately searching for a new generation of leaders. She has a “sense of youth, glamour and charisma,” writes CNN’s Maeve Reston.

References

Former President Obama once described her as “brilliant … dedicated and tough,” following that up with a statement about her looks during a fundraising stop in San Francisco four years ago. Um, that statement did not go too well. “She is someone who has great instincts about how to get engaged in a fight,” Burton said. But not everyone is buying into the hype. “If there was a normal administration in power, she would probably not be as prominent,” said John J. Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.