Kamala Harris may have unofficially been declared the winner of Thursday night’s spectacle but she wasn’t immune to stretching the truth, leaving out facts, or flip-flopping on some of the issues that gave rise to her debate popularity.
Since the corporate media focuses on narratives—and boy did they love the Kamala takes it to Biden storyline—more than fact-checking, Status Coup is here to provide you with all the deception play-by-play your heart can desire!
Well, thank you. I will say, no, absolutely not. They should not be deported. And I actually—this was one of the very few issues with which I disagreed with the administration, with whom I otherwise had a great relationship and a great deal of respect. But on the secure communities issue, I was Attorney General of California. I led the second largest Department of Justice in the United States, second only to the United States Department of Justice, in a state of 40 million people.
And on this issue, I disagreed with my president, because the policy was to allow deportation of people who, by ICE’s own definition, were non-criminals. So, as Attorney General and the chief law officer of the state of California, I issued a directive to the sheriffs of my state that they did not have to comply with detainers and instead should make decisions based on the best interest of public safety of their community. Because what I saw—and I was tracking it every day. I was tracking it and saw that—that parents, people who had not committed a crime even by ICE’s own definition, were being deported.
And—but I have to add a point here. The problem with this kind of policy, and I know it as a prosecutor—I want a rape victim to be able to run in the middle—of a—to run in the middle of the street and wave down a police officer and report the crime against her. I want anybody who has been the victim of any real crime to be able to do that and not be afraid that if they do that they will be deported because the abuser will tell them it is they who is the criminal. It is wrong.
Kamala Harris is now known as a Senator and presidential candidate who fights for the rights of immigrants, but she’s certainly made some missteps on the issue in her career.
In 2008, then-mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsome announced that the city would change its policy and police would start reporting undocumented youth to ICE whether they’d been convicted of a crime or not. Then-SF District Attorney Kamala Harris supported the policy, despite the Board of Supervisors later passing a law striking it down, saying in a speech at Stanford University, “There was then an initiative that was written by the board of supervisors that was passed and there was opposition to that but it did pass. And so we’re gonna have to wait and see how the courts interpret what it means. From my perspective, I think that it would be in conflict with federal law, and we have to follow the law…you may not agree with it, but you know, that’s why we have a process where you can challenge laws.”
That’s not the only area where the Senator has been at odds with pro-immigration activists and officials. California TRUST Act author Tom Ammiano told the Huffington Post that, “Around the TRUST Act, it was bupkus. It was zilch. It was invisible. There was just no help from [Kamala Harris’] office. It didn’t land well with the immigrant rights folks.”
The 2014 California TRUST act stands for “Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools,” which was designed to protect immigrants and limit local and state law enforcement agencies’ collaboration with Secure Communities, a DHS deportation program with the goals (according to an ICE document from 2009) of identifying criminal aliens through information sharing and prioritizing the removal of dangerous criminal aliens. Instead, Secure Communities (S-Comm) has become a vehicle for snagging low-level criminal offenders and even non-criminals, according to the ACLU.
It took years for Kamala Harris to come around as more Democrats leaned further left on the issue of immigration. This has caused some concern among activists that Harris will not be a leader on the issue if elected president. Harris can say that she disagreed with the Obama administration on the issue of Secure Communities, but she didn’t lead on the issue and it took outside pressure for her to take a stance and issue her clarifying bulletins.
On Race and Criminal Justice
But, I also believe—and it’s personal. And I—I was actually very—it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose bussing. And you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bussed to school every day and that little girl was me. So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As attorney general of California, I was very proud to put in place a—a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.
In the now infamous moment where Harris described herself as that little girl who was bused into white schools in California, she proudly pointed out that, as California’s Attorney General, she put into place a requirement that her special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on. What the audience likely missed what that it wasn’t a California statewide initiative, it was specifically a requirement for those working under Harris at the California Department of Justice. And despite Harris’s AG’s office being the first statewide agency to implement mandatory body cameras, she was wishy-washy on California as a whole doing so.
In 2015, then-CA AG Harris said of police wearing body cameras: “I as a general matter believe that we should invest in the ability of law enforcement leaders in specific regions and with their departments to use…discretion to figure out what technology they are going to adopt based on needs that they have and resources that they have…So, I don’t think we can have a one-size-fits-all approach to this.”
TRANSLATED: Harris never called for statewide mandatory body cameras as CA AG, putting the onus on local agencies. Some have felt that she should be a leader on the issue of widespread camera use—especially as a person of color. With this record in mind, Harris’ evoking California DOJ adoption of such a policy during the debate comes across as an issue she’s trying to paint as something she’s been consistent on for years when, in reality, she hasn’t been. Her campaign did not immediately respond to Status Coup’s request for comment.
On Climate Change
Well, first of all I don’t even call it climate change. It’s a climate crisis. It represents an existential threat to us as a species. And the fact that we have a President of the United States who has embraced science fiction over science fact will be to our collective peril. I visited while the embers were smoldering the wildfires in California I spoke with firefighters who were in the midst of fighting a fire while their own homes were burning. And on this issue it is a—it is a critical issue that is about what we must do to confront what is immediate and before us right now. That is why I support a Green New Deal. It is why I believe on day one and as President will re-enter us in the Paris agreement because we have to take these issues seriously and frankly, we have a President of the United States we talked about you asked before what is the greatest national security threat to the United States? It’s Donald Trump. And I’m going to tell you why.
And I’m going to tell you why because I agree climate change represents an existential threat. He denies the science. You want to talk about North Korea, real threat in terms of nuclear arsenal but what does he do? He embraces Kim Jong Un, a dictator.
As Harris mentioned during the debate, California has seen devastating wildfires in recent years. What she didn’t mention is that she missed a key vote on California disaster aid for the wildfires—the bill received 44 votes and did not pass. Harris, who did not support the bill, was instead campaigning in Sacramento targeting labor unions’ support.
She said in a statement about the bill: “I’ve seen the damage up close in California, and I promised that I would do everything I can to help get them back on their feet. But this administration has played politics with disaster funding by failing to fully assist California wildfire victims and the millions of American citizens still struggling in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Survivors of these disasters are hurting, and they deserve immediate and meaningful support—this bill does not do that.”
Also of note, though she has pledged not to take oil and gas money in the 2020 presidential primary race, she has taken money from the industry in the past. This is at odds with her declaration that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis and must do everything we can to stop it.
On Medicare for All and Private Insurance
Lester Holt asked the candidates to raise their hand if their plans for health care would eliminate private insurance—surprisingly Senator Harris raised her hand high. Surprising because she had already flip-flopped on this twice before. Unfortunately for those who’d hoped she’d finally firmly landed on getting rid of private insurance, she flip-flopped again on Morning Joe the next morning that she had misspoken —she’d “heard the question wrong” and thought she was being asked if she’d personally stop using private insurance in favor of government-run insurance. “No, no, I do not. I am a proponent of Medicare-for-all. Private insurance will exist for supplemental coverage,” she said on the program.
This flip flop wasn’t a surprise for those who’d been paying attention to Harris’ stance on the issue over time. The Washington Post pointed out that Harris didn’t respond to a survey they’d sent months ago as to whether she would “essentially” eliminate private insurance. Then, in January at a town hall hosted by Jake Tapper, she was asked a similar question and responded in a positive manner, “Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through paperwork, all of the delay that may require. Who of us has not had that situation, where you’ve got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, well, I don’t know if your insurance company is going to cover this? Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”
Worse than the private insurance flip-flop, Harris’ campaign also advised that she would also be open to other paths to Medicare-for-all—including paths that don’t eliminate private insurance. The continuing hemming and hawing over whether she would eliminate private insurance seems to indicate a candidate trying to appear progressive in front of big debate and town hall audiences and then walk back that progressivism after the fact to soothe her big Wall Street donors’ unease.
Unsurprisingly, Harris was ruled the breakout star of the debate (after all, corporate media treats the debates as a theatrical cast of characters and conflict) for her attack on Biden over his racist busing history. The focus and praise of Harris for this moment has allowed her to escape further scrutiny on the several instances where she played fast and loose with the facts.
As she is expected to rise in the polls, it will be up to independent media outlets to report the truth on Harris’ record and donors—including an upcoming fundraiser with a former Wells Fargo executive who vehemently defended the big bank during its fake account scandal.
Talk about “For the People.”
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