Representative Tulsi Gabbard ripped into presidential rival senator Kamala Harris’s prosecutorial record during the Democratic primary debate Wednesday evening, accusing the former California attorney general of propagating a hypocritical standard of justice.
Gabbard said she is “deeply concerned” about Harris’s record on criminal justice from her time as district attorney in San Francisco and later attorney general of California.
Harris “put over 1500 people in jail for marijuana violations and laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked,” Gabbard said as the California senator shook her head.
Gabbard added that Harris also “blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so.”
The Hawaii senator also said Harris “kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California” and “fought to keep cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.”
“When you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not and worse yet in the case of those who are on death row, innocent people, you actually blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so,” Gabbard said.
“There’s no excuse for that and the people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor, you owe them an apology,” she told Harris.
Harris defended her record as a prosecutor, saying she “did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.”
“I think you can judge people by when they are under fire and it’s not about some fancy opinion on a stage but when they’re in the position to actually make a decision what do they do,” Harris responded. “When I was in the position of having to decide whether or not to seek a death penalty on cases I prosecuted, I made a very difficult decision that was not popular to not seek the death penalty. History shows that and I am proud of those decisions.”
Wednesday was not the first time the Hawaii senator has targeted Harris. Earlier this month, Gabbard said Harris is “is not qualified to serve as commander in chief.”
“I can say this from personal experience as a soldier,” Gabbard said. “She has no background or experience in foreign policy and she lacks the temperament that is necessary for commander in chief.”