California Sen. Kamala Harris has carved a reputation for incisive questioning of congressional witnesses, but that strength risks becoming a weakness during Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings.
Harris is part of the Senate Judiciary Committee that confronted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 over a series of decades-old sexual misconduct allegations he denied.
Two years later, the panel is considering another controversial appointment 37 days before a general election. And Harris is on the ballot as the 2020 Democratic vice presidential pick on Joe Biden’s ticket.
Concerns regarding fellow California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 87, and whether the committee’s ranking member is up to leading the Democratic interrogation of Barrett have been met with suggestions Harris should spearhead the effort instead.
But some Democrats, including two-term Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, are cautioning Harris to cede the spotlight when the 22-person panel opens the first of four days of hearings into Barrett on Oct. 12.
Gansler, who served alongside Harris when she was California’s top law enforcement officer from 2011 to 2017, said she should try to be as apolitical as possible during the process, concentrating instead on Barrett’s ideology. That contradicts advice given to President Trump to think of Barrett as his running mate based on how Republicans energize and organize around the issue of the Supreme Court.
“She’s no longer just a prosecutor and no longer just a senator, she’s a vice presidential candidate,” Gansler told the Washington Examiner of Harris, who was also San Francisco’s district attorney and an Alameda County line prosecutor.
He added, “It would behoove Sen. Harris to do the least amount of questioning that she can do in this case because she should not and does not want to appear to be political.” …
… [T]he lawyer warned a political spectacle would likely distract from Democrats underscoring how Barrett could undermine Obamacare and abortion rights.