Many members of the Senate Intelligence Committee engaged in aggressive questioning Wednesday morning, grilling the leaders of the NSA, FBI, DOJ and the Director of National Intelligence about whether President Trump has intervened in ongoing investigations in Russian election interference and allegations of collusion with his campaign.
Only one, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), was cut off by the committee’s chair.
Harris, the only woman of color on the committee and the former attorney general of California, was attempting to ask Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about unresolved questions regarding his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. She pressed him to give a firm yes or no answer as to whether special counsel Robert Mueller has “full independence” to pursue that investigation, which he did not do.
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
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) interrupted Harris, complaining that she was not letting the witnesses answer her questions.
Harris then began a sharp exchange with NSA Director Michael Rogers on why he has spoken publicly about some of his conversations with Trump and not others.
“You can keep trying to trip me up–” Rogers protested, as she interrupted. “Senator, if you could, could I get to respond, please, ma’am?
“No, no,” Harris replied, before continuing with her question.
Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) then spoke up to chastise her, urging her and other members to “provide the witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended, fully across, for questions to get answered.”
The cavernous hearing room became tense and quiet.
When Harris tried to argue back, noting that earlier in the hearing a male senator had accused Rosenstein of filibustering, Burr cut her off again, instructing Rosenstein to speak. Harris sighed and became silent, looking supremely annoyed.
Rosenstein asserted that he “had a lot of experience with these issues and could speak to you for a very long time about it,” but declined to do so in open session. Her time for questions having expired, Harris left the room shortly after.
Her office later told TPM that Harris “will follow the facts wherever they may lead to get the truth for the American people. That can only happen when witnesses answer questions.”
Watch the exchange here:
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.