Donald Trump took to Twitter to slam Sen. Kamala Harris on Saturday (October 26) for deciding to skip a forum at Benedict College in South Carolina after it was announced that the president would be honored for his efforts to pass a criminal justice reform bill last year.
Trump labeled Harris as a “badly failing presidential candidate” and predicted that her absence "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."
Just as controversial as Trump receiving the award, is barely any students at Benedict College were allowed to attend where he spoke. Students of the historically Black college were told by the school to stay in their dorms as only seven students were allowed inside for the speech, according to USA Today.
Harris tweeted the reason why she’s declining the event and also called out students not being allowed to attend.
“Once I heard Trump got an award at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum and stopped HBCU students from attending, I decided to do my own criminal justice reform event tomorrow instead,” she wrote. “He's celebrated mass incarceration and pushed the death penalty for innocent Black children.
“I won't be complicit in papering over his record,” Harris concluded.
She also responded to the president’s tweets about her as well, tweeting: “My whole life I've fought for justice and for the people — something you'd know nothing about. The only part of criminal justice you can claim credit for is the ‘criminal’ part.”
Harris is going to have her own justice forum in Columbia, South Carolina.
Donald Trump was named the winner of the Bipartisan Justice Award by the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, a nonprofit organization founded by 20 Black Republicans and 20 Black Democrats in 2015. The award is given every year to a public servant who has demonstrated the ability to work in a bipartisan manner to achieve meaningful progress in reforming the criminal justice system.
While it’s no surprise that Trump would take shots at Kamala Harris over her no-show, it’s noteworthy that CNN host Van Jones also took a slight at her. Taking to Twitter, Jones agreed with Cory Booker that attending the event wouldn’t allow Trump to be the only voice being heard about criminal justice and condemned anyone for “running away from a conversation.”
“I will be there, too, @CoryBooker... Running away from a conversation has never solved anything,” Jones tweeted. “Some people will abandon a microphone because they don’t like the person who touched it last. Others are smart enough to grab that microphone and make sure THEY get the last word.”
The praise over Trump and the First Step Act is hypocritical to some, considering Barack Obama’s historic criminal justice reform policies that Trump rolled back, as Sen. Harris mentioned in her statement. Trump has helped expand mass incarceration by allowing his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to order prosecutors to seek the maximum punishment available for low-level, nonviolent offenders. The Bureau of Prisons also ordered the closure of several halfway houses, which extended the length of time soon-to-be released prisoners are spending behind bars. His current Attorney General, William Bar, has attacked “social justice reformers” and has vowed for “zero tolerance” for resisting police.
Barack Obama was the first president in over three decades to decrease the federal prison population.