Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was set to speak at a criminal justice forum at Benedict College, a traditionally black college in Columbia, South Carolina, but decided to cancel. Her reason? She was upset the college recognized President Donald Trump for the FIRST STEP Act. The bi-partisan piece of legislation reduces prison sentences for non-violent offenses, like drug felonies, and allows inmates to receive "good time credit" when they participate in educational and/or training programs that prepare them for life outside prison.
Kamala Harris' campaign says she will skip tomorrow's forum on criminal justice at Benedict College in SC, after President Trump was given an award there today. Instead, she'll host a criminal justice roundtable in Columbia— Melanie Mason (@melmason) October 25, 2019
Harris' team said she's the only 2020 presidential candidate who has attended a historically black college, she knows "that these spaces hold for young Black Americans."
"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," Harris said in a statement.
When Trump heard the news, he took to Twitter to chide the Senator.
Badly failing presidential candidate @KamalaHarris will not go to a very wonderful largely African American event today because yesterday I recieved a major award, at the same event, for being able to produce & sign into law major Criminal Justice Reform legislation, which will..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2019
....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
What makes Harris' stance even more ironic: she supported the FIRST STEP Act before it was signed into law.
Here's a thread she shared on Twitter about why the bill was needed:
I wanted to share my thoughts with you all in a quick thread on the FIRST STEP Act, a criminal justice reform bill that the Senate will begin voting on tonight.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
Americans deserve a criminal justice system that is both fair and smart. By passing the FIRST STEP Act, we can start to make our criminal justice system smarter.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
For too long sentencing has been overly severe & disproportionately targeted communities of color – especially Black men.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
This bill reforms some of the most draconian federal sentencing laws, including unfair mandatory minimum sentences under two- and three-strikes laws, and retroactively applying the reduced sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
It allows judges greater discretion to reduce unfair sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders and eliminate unjust sentencing enhancement.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
It also enables the use of good time credits, provides greater access to education and substance abuse treatment. It eliminates the shackling of pregnant prisoners, requires healthcare products for incarcerated women, and ends federal juvenile solitary confinement.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
But, to be clear, the FIRST STEP Act is very much just that – a first step. It is a compromise of a compromise, and we ultimately need to make far greater reforms if we are to right the wrongs that exist in our criminal justice system.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
To start: all of the bill’s sentencing reforms should be applied retroactively.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
It should also further expand application of earned good time credits, place more prohibitions on private prisons which profit from the incarceration of individuals, and further limit the use of electronic monitoring.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
Despite these concerns, overall, this measure takes positive steps to improve our justice system, and I intend to vote for it.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 17, 2018
Let's be honest: Harris is upset that Trump, the one person she despises most in Washington, D.C., was able to get a decent criminal reform passed in Congress. Criminal justice reform was something Democrats have always touted as their strong suit. Even CNN's Van Jones, who has worked on this issue for years, praised Trump for the move.