‘We do have two systems of justice’ for black and white Americans, said Harris, the first black and South Asian American woman on a major party presidential ticket.
‘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,’ she said.
‘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.’
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Kamala Harris slammed President Donald Trump and his Attorney General William Barr for denying systematic racism in the US justice system during an interview with CNN aired Sunday
Harris accused Trump and Barr of ‘spending full time in a different reality’ after they both dismissed the idea of two separate justice systems for black and white Americans
Barr, the nation’s top lawyer, dismissed the idea of ‘two justice systems’ in an interview with CNN last 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.’
Trump also refused to acknowledge the existence of systematic racism the day before during his visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, which was roiled by riots following the police shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23.
Well, you know, you just keep getting back to the opposite subject,’ Trump said.
‘We should talk about the kind of violence we’ve seen in Portland and here and other places.’
During the same interview, Harris warned that Russian election interference and voter suppression could threaten her and Biden’s bid for the White House.
‘I am clear that Russia interfered in the [presidential election] of 2016,’ Harris said, noting that she serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has published reports on the interference.
‘I do believe there will be foreign interface in the 2020 election and Russia will be on the front of line.’
Asked if the interference could cost her and Biden the presidency, Harris replied: ‘Theoretically, of course. Yes.’
‘We have to be a realist. I’m a realist about it, Joe’s a realist about it,’ she added.
Harris also highlighted several issues involving voter suppression, including what she called Trump’s efforts to ‘convince the American people not to believe in the integrity of the voting system’.
The president has repeatedly suggested that mail-in voting will lead to a ‘rigged’ result and last week encouraged his supporters to vote twice – once by mail and once in person – to ‘test’ whether the system was working.
Harris mentioned the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v Holder which she said ‘gutted’ the Voting Rights Act.
‘In 2013, dozens of states passed laws that were designed to suppress the black vote, to suppress students from voting, to suppress our Indigenous people from voting … So, we have classic voter suppression at play,’ she said.
Harris added that ‘obstacles’ will continue to be placed in front of voters until November, at which point she and Biden hope to win so they can ‘put some teeth back’ in the Voting Rights Act.
During the same interview, Harris warned that Russian election interference and voter suppression could threaten her and Biden’s bid for the White House
At another point in the interview, Harris panned Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and said she would not take his word alone on any potential vaccine.
Harris noted that Trump had a track record of suppressing expert opinion about the pandemic and worried that might happen again in the case of a prospective vaccine.
‘I would not trust Donald Trump,’ she said, adding she would only be convinced of the efficacy of a vaccine if someone credible were vouching for it as well.
‘I will not take his word for it.’
At least 6.2 million people have been infected in the US coronavirus outbreak, which has taken more than 188,000 lives.
With the government’s handling of the world’s worst outbreak of the disease under close scrutiny, Trump has dangled the possibility that a vaccine might be ready ahead of the November 3 presidential election.
But the president has a track record of flouting scientific advice and some experts are skeptical that vaccine trials, which have to study potential side effects on a wide range of people before they can deliver a verdict, can be completed by late this year or even early next year.
Harris suggested to CNN that Trump might seize on a vaccine – no matter how untested – to burnish his image.
‘He’s looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days and he’s grasping for whatever he can get to pretend he can be a leader on this issue when he’s not,’ she said.
She also suggested that health experts would not get the final say on whether the vaccine is approved or not.
‘If past is prologue that they will not, they’ll be muzzled, they’ll be suppressed, they will be sidelined,’ she claimed.