Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on Tuesday said she would not second-guess House lawmakers’ focus on President Donald Trump’s dealings in Ukraine as part of their impeachment inquiry.
“There’s still not been any real consequence or accountability as it relates to the findings in the Mueller report,” Harris said in an interview with PBS NewsHour’s anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff. “But I think that it is right, also, for the inquiry to focus on the matter at hand: The president of the United States committed a crime, it appears, committed a crime even by his own confession when it comes to soliciting assistance from a foreign government.”
William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d’affaires to Ukraine, testified before House lawmakers Tuesday that he believes the Trump administration had withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into political rivals. His 15-page statement details weeks of conversations with other diplomats, during which military aid was apparently used to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a company tied to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.
Harris also rejected the idea that the impeachment inquiry will distract voters from the 2020 presidential campaign.
“I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time,” she said. “I’m here in Iowa City. … People are concerned about whether their democracy is being undone by Donald Trump. They are worried about whether their system of justice still has any integrity. Does the rule of law matter? And they are concerned about the fact that almost half of American families can’t afford a $400 unexpected expense, or that a $500 medical bill will bankrupt them.”
More highlights from the interview:
- On Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria: Harris criticized the president’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, saying he has “played into the hands of the Russians.” She said that “there is no question in my mind, and I think most would agree, that Donald Trump taking this unilateral action based on apparently a phone call has now delivered four wins — meaning, Russia, Iran, Syria and ISIS — and has put our national security at risk.”
- On her “Medicare for All” plan: Harris defended her version of Medicare for All, which would allow patients to choose between public and private insurance options. The plan has been criticized by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign as not the real “Medicare for All.” Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign says it will increase taxes for the middle class. Harris said that she has “always supported ‘Medicare for All’” and was very happy to sign onto Sanders bill. “I give Bernie, frankly, a lot of credit for moving the conversation to where it is now. But I thought we could do better,” she said. “In my plan, as distinguished from Bernie and [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren’s plan, yes, people do have a choice of getting a private or a public plan. But it is going to cover everyone and it is going to bring down costs.”