During the ongoing investigation into the Russian hacking scandal, a female Senator was subject to gendered silencing by her male colleagues.
Senator Kamala Harris, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, was taking part in the hearing in which she quizzed Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
But unlike many of her male colleagues, Harris’s attempt at taking a hard line and demanding direct answers was met not with compliance, but with defiance.
Again and again during her questioning of the men under oath, Harris was chastised for speaking over and interrupting the others. That may have been considered rude of Harris if not for the fact that she was repeatedly denied the answers to the important questions she was posing.
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
“Are you willing or are you not willing to give him the authority to be fully independent of your ability, statutorily or legally, to fire him?”
Rosenstein began to give an answer that would likely have dodged the question entirely. Seeking to reach a direct answer, Harris continued,
“Yes or no?”
For daring to ask for a yes or no response, Harris was silenced by the chair and cautioned to act more courteously.
“[P]rovide the witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended, fully across, for questions to get answered.”
Harris’ urgency was not unwarranted – as in many similar hearings, Harris was only allocated five minutes to ask as many questions as she could. If she allowed Rosenstein to wax poetic and dodge the question, she may have found herself at the end of her time with not a single question answered.
This is the nature of politics – it is not always polite when colleagues are trying to avoid the truth. For Harris to have been silenced when she was merely trying to do her job is another disappointing sign of disrespect to powerful female elected officials.