As fate would have it, the same prosecutorial past that arguably contributed to the untimely demise of Kamala Harris‘ presidential campaign has emerged one of the strongest forces at play as the historic impeachment trial against President Donald Trump officially began on Thursday.
The former attorney general of California and sitting U.S. senator who suspended her bid for the White House last month was flexing her legal chops on Capitol Hill ahead of the historic proceedings against a president who has been accused of abusing his power to have a foreign country possibly affect the outcome of the 2020 election and obstructing a Congressional investigation.
Channeling her decades of experience in the courtroom, Harris made her case to the court of public opinion about how much “integrity” was at stake for all parties involved in the impeachment proceedings.
“I would argue that not only is this an impeachment trial but the very integrity of the United States Senate is on trial,” Harris said during a press conference after all 100 senators were sworn in and both charges against Trump were formally presented.
She called the charges against Trump “arguably the most serious” that have ever been leveled against a president and challenged her fellow senators “to uphold the integrity of our system of democracy, uphold the integrity of our system of justice and to uphold the integrity of the United States Senate,” who she encouraged to “receive all evidence, documents and individuals who are witnesses so that we can engage in a fair deliberation and make a decision that reflects the ideals and the values and the very principles of the United States’ system of justice.”
Those strong words came one day after Harris shrewdly called for a stoppage of Trump nominations and the Senate confirmations of judges while the president’s impeachment trial was underway.
“The president is charged with high crimes and misdemeanors, and the Senate must take seriously its constitutional role in this process,” Harris said Wednesday in a statement. “During the time when articles of impeachment are before the Senate, it would be wholly inappropriate to advance the president’s nominees to the federal judiciary.”
Her legal mind was right on time as the nominations of five judges picked by Trump’s were advanced on Thursday by the Republican majority Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Harris, a Democrat, is a member. But that’s as far as they would go — for now — thanks to Harris, who convinced Senate Judiciary Committee Chair and Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham to delay the confirmation hearings until the impeachment trial has ended.
With that legal victory in tow, Harris looked toward achieving more of them during the impeachment trial. Despite Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell‘s attempts to keep witnesses from being called, Harris detailed to CNN Congressional correspondent Manu Raju on Thursday all the people she said she wanted to testify — including former White House national security adviser John Bolton, who recently said he would be willing to serve as a witness, something Team Trump has desperately tried to prevent from happening.
And just in case it wasn’t apparent how serious Harris was, she summed up the stakes at hand pretty neatly when speaking with MSNBC on Thursday. She said that if the Senate refused to conduct a fair and impartial trial — as Republican senators have threatened — it would signal “the end of … our system of justice.”
“This is the time to do justice and be in pursuit of justice,” Harris insisted.
Harris was stepping up amid rumors about her chances of being tapped to be a vice-presidential candidate of the eventual Democratic nominee. Joe Biden, the front-running Democrat, said on Tuesday that Harris is “qualified to be president” and that he would “consider her for anything that she would be interested in.”
But if the VP nomination doesn’t come to fruition, she shouldn’t worry. Not only will she still be a U.S. Senator, but chances are also good that after her masterfully legal showing surrounding the impeachment proceedings and trial, she will almost certainly be a top choice for U.S. attorney general if the Democrats can find a way to beat Trump in November.