As a trial lawyer and political pundit, I am SO impressed by Senator Kamala Harris and her performance on the Senate Intelligence Committee over the past two weeks. Her questions of Jeff Sessions locked him into turning over documents and emails while also potentially allowing the Committee to subpoena his or Donald Trump’s cell phones since she pressed him on how he communicated with the president both during and after the campaign.
Sen. Harris also was able to get Sessions to say that his meetings with the Russian ambassador were during the campaign, not per his duties as a senator, which has been his go to lie for months.
Separately, I am not surprised that Chairman Richard Burr has cut her off twice in the past two weeks. Harris is a newcomer to Washington, which means she asks the crucial questions and could not care less about hurting a former colleague’s feelings. But most importantly, Harris is a trial lawyer doing what a trial lawyer does—which is to get the answers out of a witness one minute, while laying waste to said witnesses credibility the next. Her effectiveness was evident when Sessions, also a trial lawyer, conceded “you are making me nervous” during the rapid fire nature of her examination. Indeed, Sessions could not have paid a greater compliment and while some non-lawyers or lawyers partial to Trump may say “she is being rude,” the truth is that she is being a skilled advocate–period. Sen. Harris being interrupted reminded me of an armed robbery trial I did over a decade ago in Quincy, Florida before now senior judge Bill Gary, who during the middle of my closing argument where I was breaking the applicable laws down into laymen’s terms, as four of the six jurors were nodding their heads in agreement like they were about to shout “amen” to their pastor during summer revival, Judge Gary cut me off and loudly exclaimed “members of the jury, Mr. Hobbs is a “clever” speaker but do know this, I WILL GIVE YOU THE LAW THAT YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO DURING JURY INSTRUCTIONS FOLLOWING CLOSING ARGUMENTS—NOT MR. HOBBS—NOW MOVE ON COUNSELOR!!! Undaunted, with a gracious smile that masked my palpable frustration that the judge objected himself (without an objection from the prosecutor), I told the jury, “indeed, Judge Gary will give you the law, and your job is to apply it to all of the lies, conflicting evidence and lack of evidence that I have spent the past 20 minutes carefully pointing out to you;” the head nodding and smiles from the jury continued and Judge Gary got redder and stared at me intensely until I took my seat a few minutes later. (The jury acquitted my client in less than half an hour)
Similarly, Sen. Harris’s role is not to allow Sessions or others testifying to spin lies, but to get to the truth of the matters before the committee. Yesterday’s hearing was but the first step as Sessions, and others, will be called back as more evidence hails forth concerning Donald Trump’s bizarre decision to fire James Comey while giving off the appearance of impropriety— if not direct evidence of obstructing justice. As always, stay tuned….