'You owe them an apology': Rep. Tulsi Gabbard takes aim at Sen. Kamala Harris' record as a prosecutor during 2020 Democratic debate

Gabbard said "there's no excuse" for Harris' record as a prosecutor.

July 31, 2019, 9:59 PM

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard didn’t hold back when she took aim at Sen. Kamala Harris, saying "there is no excuse" for her record as a prosecutor and she owed those "who suffered under [her] reign as prosecutor" an apology.

Gabbard, D-Hawaii, was speaking about the country’s criminal justice system at Wednesday night’s Democratic debate when she brought Harris' history into question. Gabbard said that while Harris, D-Calif., is proud of her record, she is "deeply concerned."

"There are too many examples to cite, but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana. She blocked evidence, she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so," Gabbard said.

Senator Kamala Harris speaks as entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard listen on the second night of the second presidential debate in Detroit, July 31, 2019.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

"She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California, and she fought to keep cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way," Gabbard said.

Harris responded that she significantly reformed the criminal justice system in California and she was proud of her work.

"And I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor but doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform," she said.

But Gabbard wasn't done.

"The bottom line is Senator Harris 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," she said.

"There is no excuse for that and the people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor, you owe them an apology," Gabbard added.

Harris served as the attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017.

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