Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris of California pulled a 180-degree change in attitude Saturday after President Donald Trump mocked her for refusing to appear at an event sponsored by a group that honored Trump.
On Friday, Trump appeared at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, to receive the Bipartisan Justice Award from the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center for his efforts to pass the First Step Act, which helps ex-offenders make a successful transition to the community after leaving prison and also curbed mandatory sentences created in the 1994 crime bill passed by former President Bill Clinton.
Harris, who had supported the First Step Act, objected to Trump getting the award and said she would not attend an all-Democratic forum scheduled for Saturday at the historically black college.
“As the only candidate who attended an HBCU, I know the importance that these spaces hold for young black Americans,” Harris said in a statement, according to Fox News, referring to historically black colleges and universities.
“Today, when it became clear Donald Trump would receive an award after decades of celebrating mass incarceration, pushing the death penalty for innocent black Americans, rolling back police accountability measures and racist behavior that puts people’s lives at risk, and then learned all but ten Benedict students are excluded from participating, I cannot in good faith be complicit in papering over his record.
“Donald Trump is a lawless president,” the statement continued. “Not only does he circumvent the laws of our country and the principles of our Constitution, but there is nothing in his career that is about justice, for justice, or in celebration of justice.”
Trump replied Saturday on Twitter.
“Badly failing presidential candidate @KamalaHarris will not go to a very wonderful largely African American event today because yesterday I received a major award, at the same event, for being able to produce & sign into law major Criminal Justice Reform legislation, which will greatly help the African American community (and all other communities), and which was unable to get done in past administrations despite a tremendous desire for it. This and best unemployment numbers EVER is more than Kamala will EVER be able to do for African Americans!,” Trump tweeted.
….greatly help the African American community (and all other communities), and which was unable to get done in past administrations despite a tremendous desire for it. This and best unemployment numbers EVER is more than Kamala will EVER be able to do for African Americans!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2019
Later Saturday, Harris changed her mind.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said that the 20/20 Justice Center was removed as a sponsor of the forums, which would be sponsored by him and the college, NBC reported.
In its reporting on the event, The Washington Post noted, “However, it wasn’t clear in what ways the sponsor was no longer affiliated with the event because the group maintained a presence there throughout the day.”
At the event itself, Harris offered her own version of her reason for changing her position.
“Let me just be clear so you can hear it from me,” she said, according to Fox News. “I refused to come because frankly Benedict College students were excluded and also I said I wouldn’t come because I couldn’t believe that Donald Trump would be given an award as it relates to criminal justice reform.
“This is someone who’s disrespected the voices who have fought for justice and sacrificed to create leadership around justice in this system,” Harris said.
Harris also focused upon Trump’s use of the word “lynching” in reference to the impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats.
“What do we have in Donald Trump? Someone who dares — dares — to use the word ‘lynching’ with the blood that has been poured on the soil of South Carolina and so many places,” she said. “And he dares to compare himself to the people who have been at the wrong end of a system that is in need of reform.”
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