Once again, senators cut off Harris as she rails on Sessions

Story highlights

  • While questioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Kamala Harris was cut off by John McCain
  • The exchange marks the second time in less than a week that McCain has interrupted Harris

(CNN)For the second time in a week, Sen. Kamala Harris was cut off by her Republican colleagues while posing questions at a Senate intelligence committee hearing -- drawing the spotlight to the potential 2020 contender.

While asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions about his refusal to answer questions Tuesday concerning conversations he may have had with President Donald Trump, the California Democrat was interrupted by Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Senate intelligence chairman Richard Burr then stepped in and said: "Senators, we'll allow the chair to control the hearing. Sen. Harris, let him answer the question."
    The exchange was an almost exact repeat of last week, when McCain cut in on her intense questioning of Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, and Burr told her to stop and let Rosenstein answer.
    The difference Tuesday was that Burr chastised both Harris and McCain -- and took a softer tone in rebuking Harris.
    What changed over the course of the past week was discussion behind-the-scenes at the Capitol that Harris had effectively pulled Burr into a political trap last week that helped elevate her star. By aggressively shutting down Harris last week, Burr evoked the image of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shutting down Sen. Elizabeth Warren in February -- a move which sprung the "Nevertheless, she persisted" meme.
    Warren, another top-tier potential 2020 contender, even slapped the #NeverthelessShePersisted hashtag of approval on Harris after the showdown.
    Burr dialed his reaction back Tuesday.
    However, at the start of the hearing, he offered a somewhat subtle dig at Harris: "I'm hopeful that members will focus their questions today on the Russia investigation, and not squander the opportunity by taking political or partisan shots."
    During this week's hearing, Sessions repeatedly explained his non-disclosures of Russian contacts by citing what he called a longstanding Department of Justice policy. Asked by Harris about the policy's origin, he began discussing its principle.
    Harris followed up, "Sir, I am not asking about you the principle. I am asking -- when you knew that you would be asked these questions and you would rely on that policy, did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing--"
    At this point, McCain spoke over Harris, saying, "Chairman, the witness should be allowed to answer the question."
    Harris went on to finish the question just before committee chairman Richard Burr chimed in that the panel would allow the chair to control the hearing.
    Shortly after the exchange, Harris tweeted, "It was a simple question. Can Sessions point to the policy, in writing, that allows him to not answer a whole host of our questions today."