Hmm, Kamala Harris Was Cut Off Again

by Chris Tognotti
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

For the second time in as many weeks, California Sen. Kamala Harris was interrupted by a GOP colleague while questioning a witness testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The moment last week during Comey's testimony spurred accusations that Republican North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, who is the committee chairman, was sexist in how he chastised her, and only her. And then, during the Sessions testimony, it happened again: Harris keeps getting interrupted by the GOP, and it's more than fair to ask why they seem to be singling her out.

While directing a contentious and incisive series of questions at the attorney general on Tuesday afternoon, Harris was once again cut off by Burr, who warned her to "let him answer," despite the fact that her questioning was no more hostile or combative than New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich's aggressive inquiry earlier in the day.

After a Republican senator insisted that Sessions should be allowed to answer ― interrupting Harris' time in the process, naturally ― Burr jumped in to tsk-tsk the first-term California Democrat. Here's how it went down.

Senators will allow the chair to control the hearing. Senator Harris, let him answer.

For a point of reference, here's how the scene looked when Harris was interrupted by Burr last week, during her questioning of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Again, it was Burr as the committee chairman who scolded her both times.

Obviously, conservatives and Republicans might balk at Democratic complaints over Burr's behavior, whether because they agree with him that Harris was being too aggressive in her questioning ― although again, where are those warnings for the men ― or because they're resistant to the very notion that sexism could be involved here. That a woman of Harris' relative power and status could still be the victim of sexist double-standards, called-out and interrupted for the same type of incisive, assertive line of questioning that a man likely would've gotten away with.

It'll be fascinating to see whether this trend with Harris getting stifled and silenced in committee hearings will continue, because surely Burr and his colleagues understand how it comes across. Of course, if behavioral norms truly are set from the top down ― as in, from the guy in the White House down to his party ― maybe it's not that surprising that a prominent Republican senator like Burr isn't afraid to look a little bit sexist.