Yesterday, the Senate took mansplaining to the next level: manshushing.
During yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, freshman Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was questioning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Russian involvement in the 2016 election when she was repeatedly interrupted by committee chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).
Harris asked Rosenstein if he would commit in writing that special counsel Robert Mueller would have full independence in the Russia investigation. Rosenstein began a rambling, noncommittal answer. Harris, a former prosecutor, pressed him.
“Yes or no, sir,” asked Harris. “Are you willing to do as has been done before?”
“Will the senator suspend?” Burr interrupted. “The chair 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.”
“Mr. Chairman, respectfully, I would point out that this witness has joked, as we all have, his ability to filibuster,” said Harris. Burr again cut her off, telling her to “suspend.”
This occurred, as observers pointed out, after senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Angus King (I-ME) engaged in questioning that was contentious (in King’s own words) and not particularly an extension of courtesy.
Sen. Wyden was one of those observers. After the hearing, he tweeted in Harris’ defense: “@SenKamalaHarris was getting facts onto the record. I was not interrupted by @senatorburr when I asked tough questions. She was.”
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 7, 2017
After the hearing, Harris, the former California attorney general, posted a CNN story about the fracas on her Facebook page with the message, “I won’t back down. We need the truth.” She tweeted a video of the exchange, saying, “I asked Deputy AG Rosenstein to commit in writing that Mueller has full independence. The American people deserve it.”
I asked Deputy AG Rosenstein to commit in writing that Mueller has full independence. The American people deserve it. pic.twitter.com/0Wi5o2d5Th
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) June 7, 2017
As the day progressed, a number of news outlets took umbrage, and think pieces flew thick and fast. It reminded some of the meme-generating incident when Sen. Elizabeth Warren was interrupted on the Senate floor, then criticized: “She was warned. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 7, 2017
Apparently someone of the female persuasion got to Burr. In today’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Harris questioned former FBI Director James Comey without interruption.