“We do have two systems of justice” for Black and White Americans, Harris said.
The comments from the first Black and South Asian American woman on a major party presidential ticket come less than two months before the November election in an exclusive “State of the Union” interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, in which Harris suggested Trump was not a “real leader” on racial justice and was trying to “pretend that he has been a leader” on the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t think that most reasonable people who are paying attention to the facts would dispute that there are racial disparities and a system that has engaged in racism in terms of how the laws have been enforced,” said Harris, a California senator and former state attorney general. “It does us no good to deny that. Let’s just deal with it. Let’s be honest. These might be difficult conversations for some, but they’re not difficult conversations for leaders, not for real leaders.”
Barr, the nation’s top law enforcement official, dismissed the idea of “two justice systems” in a CNN interview Wednesday. “I think we have to be a little careful about throwing the idea of racism around,” he said. “I don’t think it is as common as people suggest.”
Asked specifically about systemic racism during his visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week, Trump refused to acknowledge it, saying, “Well, you know, you just keep getting back to the opposite subject. We should talk about the kind of violence we’ve seen in Portland and here and other places.”
Protests against racial injustice, particularly in law enforcement, have swept across the country as police violence against Black Americans — including George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York — has dominated headlines this summer.
In a July ABC News/Washington Post poll, nearly nine in 10 Black Americans said they are not confident police treat Black and White Americans equally, while a majority of White Americans said they are confident they are treated equally.
A 2019 survey from the Pew Research Center found that Black Americans were about five times more likely than White Americans to say they’ve been unfairly stopped by police because of their race or ethnicity.
“I’m very clear that we have got to in America re-imagine how we are accomplishing public safety,” Harris told Bash. “If we want to create safe communities, one of the smartest ways we can do that is invest in the health of those communities, because healthy communities are safe communities.”
Pressed about her call for charges against the Kenosha police officer who shot Blake seven times in the back, Harris insisted she had been “very clear” that charges should be “considered in a very serious way.” Pressed again, she repeated her initial statement that “based on what I saw, he should be charged,” but “I am not in full possession of the facts and the evidence.”
Harris hits Trump administration for coronavirus response
With a US death toll of more than 188,000, Harris attacked the Trump administration for “minimizing the seriousness” of the coronavirus outbreak and failing to do enough for millions of American struggling to make ends meet.
“There is no question that Donald Trump has been an abject failure and incompetent when it comes to addressing the severe job loss that has happened as a result of the pandemic, because he has failed to address the pandemic itself,” Harris told Bash. “We need to talk about how the economy is doing based on how working people are doing. And right now, working people are suffering.”
The unemployment rate in the United States stands at 8.4%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. That’s down from a high of 14.7% in April, but still far from the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.5% in February.
Harris continued to say she would not trust Trump’s word alone on the safety and efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine, but said she “would trust the word of public health experts and scientists,” including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Joe Biden and I have a plan,” Harris said on vaccine distribution. “Donald Trump does not.”
Trump said Friday he believed a coronavirus vaccine could “probably” come sometime in the month of October, though experts agree it is more likely to come later.
He also said Friday the US is “rounding the corner on the virus.” But earlier that day, a new model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, whose previous models were routinely cited by the White House in the early days of the pandemic, projected more than 400,000 Americans could die from the virus by the end of the year.
Asked whether she believes states should mandate a coronavirus vaccine for public school students along with other vaccinations, Harris said she would listen to public health experts.
Harris also declined to back a mask mandate on a federal level, instead calling for a “national standard.” “This is not about punishment. It’s not about big brother,” Harris said.
“We have a President of the United States who made this a partisan issue,” she continued. “The virus could care less who you voted for in the last election or who you plan to vote for in the next election. We need leadership that appreciates that, on certain issues, they should not be partisan. Wearing a mask certainly shouldn’t be one of them.”
Russian interference could ‘theoretically’ cost us the election
Harris said “of course” Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2020 could “theoretically” cost Democrats the White House in November.
“Could it cost you the White House?” asked Bash. “Theoretically, of course. Yes,” Harris responded. “I do believe that there will be foreign interference in the 2020 election, and that Russia will be at the front of the line,” Harris continued.
An intelligence bulletin last week from the Department of Homeland Security said that Russia is trying to sow doubt about the 2020 election by amplifying false claims about mail-in voting and fraud. Last month, the intelligence community’s top election security official revealed publicly that Russia is working to “denigrate” Biden, while China and Iran prefer that Trump is not reelected.
“I do get along with President (Vladimir) Putin,” Trump said at a news conference Friday, declining to join European leaders in condemning Russia and demanding an explanation for an attack on Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. “I don’t know exactly what happened. I think it’s tragic. It’s terrible; it shouldn’t happen. We haven’t had any proof yet, but I will take a look,” Trump said.
Harris: My mom would say ‘beat Trump’
Harris also opened up about her family in this extended interview with Bash, including her relationship with her husband, her step-children and her late mother.
“I think she’d be really, extremely proud,” Harris said, remembering her mother, who died of cancer in 2009. “And she would say, beat Trump.”
“She raised us to live a life of service. And she would look at the suffering right now, she would look at the denial of science right now and it would piss her off, excuse my language,” she said of her mother, who was a breast cancer researcher.
“We have a very modern family,” Harris told Bash. “If everyone approaches it in the way that there’s plenty of love to share, then it works. And we have plenty of love to share within our extended family.”
Some men might shrink in the shadow of a superstar spouse.
Not Douglas Emhoff, the unabashed cheerleader in chief for his wife, California Sen. Kamala Harris. On Wednesday, she made history as the first woman of color nominated for vice president by a major political party. After her speech, a beaming Emhoff made his entrance, walking alongside another prominent plus-one — Jill Biden — onto a convention hall stage in Wilmington, Del., to join their headline-making partners. Emhoff seemed a little awkward at first, tugging at the hem of his suit jacket. Then he embraced Harris, gave her a quick kiss, and the couple waved to the cameras.
When Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presidential nominee, introduced his running mate last week, he told Emhoff: “Doug, you’re going to have to learn what it means to be a barrier-breaker yourself.”
If Biden and Harris win in November, Emhoff would become the nation’s first second gentleman.
It’s been an unlikely journey for the 55-year-old Los Angeles entertainment lawyer, who now finds himself in the inner circle of a presidential campaign. Emhoff, who lives in Brentwood, has seen his national profile swell, complete with his own fan club, the #DougHive — women who are thrilled by the novelty of a man comfortably taking a back seat in politics. He has more than 250,000 followers on Twitter, where he identifies himself as: “Dad, @KamalaHarris hubby, lawyer, wannabe golfer, advocate for justice and equality.” His posts, sometimes addressed to the #KHive, can tend toward the goofy.
“He’s been 100% in his wife’s corner and supporting her any way he can,” attorney Matthew Johnson, one of Emhoff’s closest friends, said in an interview. Since meeting Harris seven years ago, Johnson said, Emhoff has been “smitten.”
Harris’ and Emhoff’s romance feels scripted by Hollywood. In some ways, it was.
Seven years ago, he was a divorced father of two, managing a respected Century City law firm, Venable, with more than 60 attorneys. He’d been practicing law for two decades. Born in Brooklyn, he moved to California as a teen (he has an older sister and a younger brother) and accumulated strong Southern California bona fides: After attending Agoura High School and Cal State Northridge, he graduated from USC Law School.
Emhoff handled cases that weren’t particularly sexy: intellectual property disputes, false advertising and copyright infringement. He defended big-name corporate clients, including Walmart and pharmaceutical giant Merck. One of his more noteworthy cases was a successful defense of Taco Bell’s advertising agency, TBWA, in the early 2000s after the fast-food chain blamed it for ripping off the idea for the Chihuahua who quipped “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” in TV commercials.
Over the years, Emhoff honed a reputation as having a soft touch with clients, patiently listening even when some “were being a little bit irrational,” said Johnson, a former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission and a partner at the juggernaut entertainment firm Ziffren Brittenham. Johnson said he often referred people to Emhoff at Venable.
“He would give clients this cool-headed, thoughtful advice,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, he had to give them advice they didn’t want to hear.”
In 2013, prominent filmmaker Reginald Hudlin and his PR executive wife, Chrisette Hudlin, were grappling with a complex legal issue. They went to Venable’s offices, where they met with Emhoff.
“He impressed us with his ability to see the big picture and resolve conflict,” Chrisette Hudlin said in an email to The Times.
Hudlin then took a leap of faith. She gave Emhoff the cellphone number of her best friend, Harris, who was then California‘s attorney general. In her book, “The Truths We Hold,” Harris recounted the episode: “I was in the middle of a meeting, and my phone wouldn’t stop buzzing.” Harris wrote that after ignoring several calls from Hudlin, she finally called her back to check in.
“I just met this guy,” Hudlin told her friend. “He’s cute and he’s the managing partner of his law firm and I think you’re really going to like him.”
At the time, Harris was in her late 40s. She had never been married; dating was difficult due to the demands of her high-profile jobs, Harris wrote in her book.
A few nights later, Emhoff texted Harris from an L.A. Lakers game. (Harris replied “Go Lakers!” even though she’s a Golden State Warriors fan.) Harris was in San Francisco, where she owns a condo, and they eventually connected by phone and scheduled a date for that weekend, when she was planning to be in L.A.
“I’ll never forget it,” said Johnson, Emhoff’s friend. “The next day he called me up and said: ‘You are not going to believe who I went out to dinner with last night? … Kamala Harris.’ And I said, ‘Get the f— out of here! How did that happen?’”
Johnson had long been impressed with Harris, and had held fundraisers for her. He blurted out to Emhoff: “I love you like a brother, but Kamala is a serious person. You better not — ”
Emhoff interrupted him, Johnson recalls, to say he was serious about Harris.
Their relationship blossomed quickly. “He seemed so genuinely comfortable with himself,” Harris wrote. “That’s part of why I liked him immediately.”
Harris and Emhoff will celebrate their sixth anniversary this weekend. They were married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse in a small family ceremony officiated by Harris’ sister, Maya Harris. In honor of Harris’ Indian roots, she placed a flower garland around his neck. And Emhoff, who is Jewish, celebrated in tradition, by stomping on a glass.
Chrisette Hudlin said even early on, she had “a sneaking suspicion” that Harris and Emhoff would wed.
“They balance each other well because they agree on the most important things in life,” Hudlin said. “They work hard, but they also know how to take time to enjoy each other and family.”
In March, Emhoff flew to Washington for a planned long weekend with his wife. Then came the coronavirus shutdown and he has remained with Harris at their home in D.C., working remotely. During a video interview with an Ohio reporter last month, Emhoff described the experience: “It’s surreal working at home with Kamala Harris. It certainly upped my game.”
Over the last five years, according to Forbes, Emhoff and Harris have earned about $8.2 million, most of it generated by his work at Venable and DLA Piper, the Century City firm he joined in 2017. On Harris’ Senate disclosures forms, she listed more than $500,000 in book advance payments in the last two years. Forbes estimates the couple’s net worth at nearly $6 million. More than a third of that amount comes from the value of their three homes — in Brentwood, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The Biden-Harris campaign declined to make Emhoff, or family members, available for interviews.
Emhoff spoke briefly Thursday during a Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus meeting, reading from a prepared text.
“Being out here on the presidential campaign trail talking about Joe and Kamala is not something I ever really expected to be doing,” Emhoff acknowledged.
“So a little about me. I was born in Brooklyn, raised in New Jersey, and then moved to L.A. in high school when my dad got a new job. I went on to college and law school in L.A., became a dad to Cole and Ella.”
Emhoff added that he’s had “a great career as an entertainment lawyer,” but is now on leave of absence from his current firm, DLA Piper, “so that I can work full time to help Joe and Kamala win.”
He also mentioned their upcoming wedding anniversary, noting that after he and Harris were engaged, “I got a congratulatory voicemail from none other than Joe Biden! … Believe it or not, I still have that message saved on my home [voicemail].”
“He’s just a wonderful guy: smart, grounded and wise. He’s easy to talk to and he’s also a really good listener,” said producer Matt Walden, a friend of Emhoff’s for nearly 30 years.
Before the pandemic, Walden and his powerhouse wife, Dana Walden, chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment, would enjoy occasional dinners out with the couple at Westside haunts, including Toscana in Brentwood. (Decades ago, Chrisette Hudlin introduced Dana Walden to Harris when Harris was a prosecutor. Hudlin said she met her husband on a blind date arranged by the Waldens.)
“A lot of what he and I spend time talking about is our families,” Matt Walden said. “He’s really proud of those kids; he is a committed dad.”
Emhoff has two children from his first marriage — Cole, 25, and Ella, 21 — named after Jazz greats John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald.
Doug and Kerstin Emhoff, a documentary film producer (FX’s “AKA Jane Roe” and HBO’s “Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Laden”), divorced in 2010. Still, they maintain a friendly relationship, and refer to theirs as a blended modern family. In social media posts, Kerstin Emhoff makes it clear she’s in Harris’ corner.
Cole and Ella Emhoff call Harris “Momala.” On Wednesday, Ella Emhoff made her debut in the videomontage of family members introducing Harris ahead of her history-making moment at the Democratic National Convention.
“You always knew [Harris] had larger political aspirations,” said Rich Frey, a trial attorney who used to work with Emhoff at Venable, but is now with Epstein Becker Green in Los Angeles.
“She’s very intelligent, a good advocate. We used to joke about it, before they got married, that she might become president,” Frey said. “But we didn’t know what his title would be: First man? First gentleman?”
Twice before, there has been a woman vying for vice president on a major presidential ticket: Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008, raising the possibility of a historic second gent. Both of those campaigns failed.
Should Biden and Harris defeat President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Emhoff would define the standard for the male version of supporting spouse. It’s not clear what causes that Emhoff might champion, but his friends said they expect him to carve out an important role.
“And I’m sure that Doug would have a big impact, being married to the vice president,” said Johnson, his friend.
Frey, Emhoff’s former law partner, agreed.
“He’ll play the role of being supportive for his wife,” Frey said. “But the ambition here is not just VP. Even if Biden doesn’t win, she’s not going to be out of the national picture.”
Times staff writer Melanie Mason contributed to this report.
President Trump’s campaign adviser Lara Trump says the Trump campaign isn’t concerned with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden picking Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as they are focused on reminding the American public what Trump has accomplished during his first term
Despite the attention Kamala Harris is receiving as his recently picked running mate, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden still tops his party’s ticket, Trump 2020 Campaign senior adviser Lara Trump noted Saturday.
“I would remind everybody that it is still Joe Biden’s, old slow Joe at the top of that ticket, Jeanine, and that is what ultimately matters,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine.”
“That is the person I’ll remind the mainstream media — who went into overdrive with a love fest of sorts for Kamala Harris, whenever it was announced that she was the vice presidential running mate of Joe Biden,” Trump said. “It’s still, Joe, at the top of the ticket. So our strategy has always been to remind people about the incredible job that this president did with his first three-and-a-half years in office.”
The president’s daughter-in-law, who is married to Eric Trump, took issue with what she called Biden’s “pandering” with his selection of a woman as his running mate, slamming him and saying she was insulted.
“And I have found it very interesting that the mainstream media and the people on the left think that the women in this country, Judge Jeanine, are stupid,” Trump said. “Apparently, they forgot that the identity politics, they tried to play in 2016 when they suggested that women should vote for someone named Hillary Clinton because she was a woman, didn’t work then, it’s not going to work.”
“I for one, was insulted when months ago Joe Biden came out and he said, guess what? It’s going to be a woman who is my running mate. Let’s not worry about qualifications. Let’s not worry about what they bring to the table,” Trump continued. “If these people want to stand up for equality, people in this country will never be fully equal in their eyes until they stop pandering for votes and playing identity politics.”
Trump said she was looking forward to the presidential debates, hoping the first debate would be moved up, saying the president would expose Biden.
“People are going to fully see that this man does not have all his faculties about him,” Trump said about Biden. “They are going to fully see that the radicalization of Joe Biden and the Democrat Party is complete, that he is a full-blown socialist.”
Joe Biden’s choice of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as his running mate marks the “complete socialist takeover” of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign, Trump 2020 campaign senior adviser Mercedes Schlapp told “The Story” Wednesday.
“When you have the fact that GovTrack rated her as the most liberal senator in the Senate, it is incredibly troubling,” Schlapp told host Martha MacCallum. “And when you look at her record, I mean, this is clearly the complete socialist takeover of Joe Biden by adding Kamala Harris to the ticket.”
Schlapp added that a close look at Harris’ record should trouble independent and centrist voters.
“We can take the case, for example, that she [Harris] co-sponsored Bernie Sanders’ single-payer, Medicare-for-all that would cost $32 trillion,” Schlapp said. “She also opposed a bipartisan USMCA [trade deal], something that was a better trade deal that would benefit many of our states and our farmers and our manufacturers.”
The adviser also noted Harris’ support for an outright ban fracking, which Schlapp said goes beyond anything Biden has said in the campaign and threatens an industry that has been a boon to the economies of key states.
Schlapp also balked at Harris’ contention that Trump’s critique of her as “nasty” is proof he has a problem with “strong women,” telling MacCallum that there are many “strong women” Trump seeks the counsel of every day — such as Dr. Deborah Birx and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“I think Kamala was quite nasty to Joe Biden when she went after him … [saying he] palled around with the segregationists like Sen. Robert Byrd,” she remarked.
Long before Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate, and even before they faced off as rival Democratic presidential candidates, the two had bonded over their mutual love for Biden’s son Beau – and grief over his death.
Harris’s friendship with Biden’s late son, who died in 2015 at the age of 46 from brain cancer, was something that Biden said he “thought a lot about” as he made the decision to name her as his running mate. “There is no one’s opinion I valued more than Beau’s and I’m proud to have Kamala standing with me on this campaign,” Biden wrote in a campaign email.
Harris and Beau Biden both served as attorney generals – she of California, he of Delaware – and began working closely together while negotiating with banks during the foreclosure crisis in 2011 and 2012.
In her memoir, Harris called him an “incredible friend and colleague” who became a close collaborator. “There were periods, when I was taking heat, that Beau and I talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” she wrote. “We had each other’s backs.”
After Beau’s death, Harris said at the 2016 California Democratic convention that the Biden family “truly represents our nation’s highest ideals, a powerful belief in the nobility of public service”. Joe Biden, she said, “has given so much to our country and on top of everything he has accomplished, he gave to us my dear friend Beau.”
The elder Biden endorsed Harris’s Senate campaign that year, and she endorsed him for president this year after dropping out of the race. In both cases, they mentioned Beau Biden as a reason they trusted and respected each other.
In the lead-up to Tuesday’s announcement naming Harris as his running mate, Biden, the former vice-president under Obama, often said he was looking to re-create the sort of relationship that he and Obama shared. Biden wanted a vice president “who is simpatico with where I want to take the country. We can disagree on tactic but not on strategy,” he told MSNBC.
Harris hugs Biden after she endorsed him at a campaign rally in Detroit in March. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
In the lead-up to Tuesday’s announcement naming Harris as his running mate, Biden, as the former vice president under Obama, often said he was looking to recreate the sort of relationship that he and Obama shared. Biden wanted a vice president “who is simpatico with where I want to take the country. We can disagree on tactic but not on strategy,” he told MSNBC.
Harris fits that description in that her moderate ideology aligns with Biden’s. But whereas the Obama-Biden relationship started off pragmatically – advisers to the former president have said he chose Biden, despite misgivings, to assuage voters nervous about electing a young, Black candidate – before eventually growing into a friendship, Harris and Biden have had a head start in developing that simpatico relationship.
As rival candidates for president, the pair did clash during the primaries – most memorably during a Democratic debate when Harris brought up Biden’s opposition in the 1970s to mandated bussing to promote school desegregation.
“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,” Harris said. She also called out his past collaboration with segregationist senators, for which Biden has apologized. Even then, Harris prefaced her criticism: “I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” she said, despite false claims from the Trump campaign that she called Biden a racist.
Still, Biden and Harris hit a rough patch after the debate. In an interview with CNN, Biden said he was hurt by the attack – which was ultimately blunted when Harris was questioned about her own stance on mandated bussing as a solution to continuing school segregation. Ultimately, her view on modern day bussing – that it should be considered, but not required – ended up echoing Biden’s stance in the 70s.
“I wasn’t prepared for the person coming after me the way she came after me. She knew Beau, she knows me,” Biden said afterwards. During a fundraising event, Dr Jill Biden, his wife, called that exchange a “punch to the gut”.
But later, Joe Biden said that he and Harris had smoothed things over. “I don’t hold grudges,” Biden said. “I’ve made it really clear that I don’t hold grudges. I think it was a debate, it was as simple as that.”