An interview on NBC’s ‘Today’ show became contentious when Vice President Kamala Harris pushed back against host Savannah Guthrie as the two discussed a variety of issues, including voting rights and the possibility of a conflict between the U.S. and Russia over the Ukraine.
"The president has been very clear and we as the United States are very clear, if (Russian president) Putin takes aggressive action, we are prepared to levy serious costs, period,” Harris said. “And I will tell you that part of the posture that we have taken is grounded in the respect and the value we place in…”
But Guthrie interrupted her, "I'm sorry to interrupt … I’m sorry to interrupt. But it is less than clear. Thirty minutes after the news conference, the White House press secretary had to actually clarify the president’s remarks.” Harris then stopped her and made her point: “I’m being clear with you right now. And so if you’re interested, I’ll continue to be clear."
As the conversation moved on, the topic turned to voting rights and the more recent news of the failure of Democrats to change filibuster rules to help pass voting rights legislation.
On Jan. 19, the Senate voted on ending debate on voting rights legislation, but failed to get60 votes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought up a vote on a rules change to move the legislation forward with a one-time exemption to the filibuster. However, the measure failed with 50 Republican Senators and Democrats Manchin and Sinema voting no, resulting in a 52-48 defeat.
Guthrie said it was “astonishing” to hear President Joe Biden “openly cast doubt” on elections during his Jan. 19 press conference. During the two-hour press conference, Biden was asked if he believed if a voting rights bill did not pass would the midterm election “be fairly conducted” and will the results “be legitimate.”
Guthrie asked Harris, “Is he really concerned that we may not have fair and free elections?”
But Harris corrected Guthrie, making it clear that Biden was discussing voting rights, not hindering the vote.
“The president has been consistent on this issue and the issue is that there are two bills – the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act – that have been the solution that has been offered to address the fact that around our country, states have put in place laws that are purposely making it more difficult for the American people to vote.”
“But about those bills were -- the bills were debated and they didn't pass.”
Harris replied with a smile, “If I may finish.”
Guthrie answered, “Of course” but, she continued, “The specific question, if you don't mind, does he think now that these bills haven't been passed that the '22 midterms won't be legitimate or fair or free?”
Harris replied again: “Let’s not conflate issues. What we are looking at, and the topic of so much debate last night, was that we as America cannot afford to allow this blatant erosion of our democracy and in particular the right of all Americans who are eligible to vote to have access to the ballot unfettered.”
See the exchange between Vice President Kamala Harris and NBC’s Savannah Guthrie below: