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CNN Special Reports
CNN Special Report, Kamala Harris: Making History. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 17, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. Have a good night. The CNN Special Report, "KAMALA HARRIS: MAKING HISTORY" starts right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Vice President-elect of the United States of America, Kamala Harris.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): She is the first, Vice President- elect Kamala Harris, the first to break through a historic barrier rising to the highest office ever held by a woman in the United States, a lifetime of shattering boundaries as a woman of color.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew she was a person of destiny.
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: This system needs drastic repair.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Challenging the status quo.
LATEEFAH SIMON, PRESIDENT OF AKONADI FOUNDATION: She says let's change the system.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Standing by her convictions.
K. HARRIS: Good decision has been made.
LARA BAZELON, PROFESSOR, USF LAW: The repercussions of that decision followed her for years she.
NICOLE ALLAN, ATTORNEY: She was a pariah.
PHILLIP (voice-over): And creating controversy along the way.
(on camera): Do you feel like you were misunderstood?
(voice-over): This hour her journey to the top.
MAYA HARRIS, SISTER: One of the world's greatest comeback story.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Meet the real Kamala Harris. Hear from those closest to her.
DOUG EMHOFF, KAMALA HARRIS' HUSBAND: I love her. PHILLIP (voice-over): This is a CNN Special Report, KAMALA HARRIS: MAKING HISTORY.
Saturday November 7th, 2020 at driving celebration rally under the Delaware night, a sky historic victory for one woman and a win for women, girls, and people of color nationwide.
K. HARRIS: Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Life's possibilities were something Kamala Harris was born to believe in.
K. HARRIS: The soundtrack of my childhood was Aretha Franklin singing "You are Young, Gifted and Black". You know, it really was the soundtrack of my childhood and being told by everyone and everything that you can do anything.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris's mother Shyamala Gopalan came to the University of California, Berkeley with big dreams.
CAROLE PORTER, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: Women from India and 19 didn't do that.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Childhood friend Carol Porter.
PORTER: Kamala seeing her mom knowing her mom's journey just that shows the possibilities of women.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Gopalan earned her master's degree and PhD, eventually becoming a cancer researcher.
K. HARRIS: My mother was quite a human being and an incredible mother.
M. HARRIS: Our mother had great expectations for us. We could do and we could be anything.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris's sister, Maya.
M. HARRIS: Our mother was very clear. It is not about you. It is about what to do.
PHILLIP (voice-over): The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s engulfed Berkeley in activism. It's where Gopalan fell in love with Donald Harris. Lenore Pomerance protested alongside them.
LENORE POMERANCE, CLOSE FRIEND OF HARRIS' MOTHER: It was just part of our lives.
PHILLIP (on camera): Just kind of an everyday thing.
PHILLIP (on camera): Be out in the street.
POMERANCE: And what there was -- what was going on and what you participated in, what you supported.
K. HARRIS: I was very young, I was in a stroller. My mother would tell the story about you know, at the time, strollers didn't have necessarily armrest and seatbelts. And so they're protesting and they're marching and they're into it and they're, you know, marching for the people.
And at one point, my uncle looks down and says, where's Kamala? Because I've kind of fallen out the stroller. But my memories of that environment are shaped by my early childhood, which was being in a place where that activism was so present.
PHILLIP (voice-over): It was also a childhood shaped by a tight knit community that Harris's mother would rely upon when she divorced her husband and became a single mother. Kamala was seven years old.
K. HARRIS: Our family consisted of a lot of aunts and uncles who were not born, the brothers and sisters of my mother. But in every way were my aunts and uncles, my Uncle Sherman, at a very young age taught us how to play chess. He said, I want you to learn about that board. I want you to learn to think steps ahead. And the Shelton's and Ms. Shelton, she was, you know, my second mother.
PORTER: That's where Kamala grew up.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Regina Shelton ran a preschool downstairs from the Harris apartment.
PORTER: When you walked in, there were pictures of prominent black people covering the wall, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X. So you were built up as a as a child of color or a black child to be proud of who you are, where you came from, and understand your history.
PHILLIP (on camera): It was more than just a school, more than just daycare. It was --
PORTER: It was a family.
POMERANCE: And Mr. Shelton's family would take the girls to a Christian Church. Now, you know, with Sham Christian (ph), she was a very spiritual person, but she wanted them to experience whatever there was there for them that would accept them and love them without abandoning anything of who she was. She was Indian.
PHILLIP (voice-over): As a young child, Harris was bused to school, an hour drive, but a world away to an upper middle-class neighborhood.
(on camera): Do you think it changed the course of your life?
K. HARRIS: I don't know that it did. I certainly do think that that there were so many resources being put into our education and at the earliest stages, which allowed me to be on a path to be able to blossom. PHILLIP (voice-over): A path that led her to Howard University.
JILL LOUIS, SORORITY SISTER: It was the opportunity to step out of minority and to step into the place of being part of the dominant culture.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Jill Louis met Harris the night they were initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha Incorporated, the oldest African- American sorority in the U.S. It was a time when anything seemed possible for this generation of young black students.
LOUIS: We were saying things in the media like "The Cosby Show".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our new Miss America, Miss Vanessa Williams.
LOUIS: Or like Vanessa Williams becoming Miss America. We could expect to be a part of corporations that we could have businesses, and you would find that people on campus, dressed accordingly. In Kamala's case be carrying a little briefcase around campus.
PHILLIP (on camera): She literally carried a briefcase around on the campus.
LOUIS: Yellow briefcase, yellow briefcase.
PHILLIP (voice-over): By 1986, Harris graduated from Howard, traveling back to San Francisco for law school. But her pathway to becoming a lawyer wasn't easy. She failed the bar exam on her first try.
M. HARRIS: Mommy was told us that life can be hard, and you will have setbacks. And what's most important is to get up, dust yourself off, and keep going. And she took it again and she passed.
PHILLIP (voice-over): And set her sights on being a prosecutor.
M. HARRIS: She had a passion to stand up for people who are often not seen and not heard to be an advocate for people.
PHILLIP (voice-over): That passion became a reality at times a harsh one.
K. HARRIS: I made a decision as I was elected to do.
PHILLIP (voice-over): When we come back.
PHILLIP (voice-over): In 2000, San Francisco was on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say the violence begins when wild gangs --
PHILLIP (voice-over): Assaults, drugs, violent gangs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Victims were sitting in this green car. PHILLIP (voice-over): And prostitution. Kamla Harris was a prosecutor at the city attorney's office, leading the Family and Children's Services Division.
SIMON: I know nothing about Kamala Harris until the day that she called me.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Lateefah Simon was a young single mom and a high school dropout on probation, who managed to turn her life around and become the director of a local center for young women as the teenager.
SIMON: She said, I'm a deputy city attorney and I hear that you're working with girls, girls who are on the streets and girls who are being trafficked. She said let's work together. Let's change the system.
PHILLIP (voice-over): It started with Harris launching a Sex Trafficking Task Force.
SIMON: She wanted to bring in police, prosecutors, domestic violence survivors, trafficking survivors.
M. HARRIS: You want to have a social justice warrior for those who often are not seen and not heard.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Critics say the current district attorney was a warrior, but said his office wasn't without problems.
ALLAN: His conviction rate was extremely low. A lot of cases remained unsolved, and morale was very low. Hallinan's office was frankly a mess.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris had worked under Hallinan years earlier. She knew she could clean up the mess. It was a gritty campaign. She needed someone to take charge.
M. HARRIS: Our mother was feisty and a force of nature. Our mother put her whole heart into anything that we put our minds to.
PHILLIP (voice-over): After a historic run off with her mother standing by her side, Harris became the first Black and South Asian American woman D.A. in San Francisco. Former Advisor Debbie Mesloh remembers Harris was not going to cherish the victory sitting down because she couldn't.
DEBBIE MESLOH, FORMER ADVISOR: No desk, no chair, no filing cabinet, nothing. It was just very Kamala, just to grab a chair from the reception and just start working.
PHILLIP (voice-over): The work would get serious, fast.
K. HARRIS: I got the call that a police officer had been killed in line of duty.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Twenty-nine year-old Isaac Espinosa was gunned down in the gang ridden neighborhood of Bayview. MESLOH: Isaac was an amazing cop. He's the type of person that you would hope would be out there protecting your community.
PHILLIP (voice-over): An arrest was made the next day. But the sting of Espinosa's death got worse when Harris made an unexpected announcement only three days after the shooting.
K. HARRIS: In San Francisco, it is the will I believe of the majority of people that the most severe crimes be met with the most severe consequences and that life without possibility of parole is a severe consequence.
GARY DELAGNES, SF POLICE OFFICER ASSOC.: And I'm standing there and I'm going, oh my god.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Former Police Union President Gary Delagnes was standing next to Harris when she made the announcement. He says, the timing of that decision, riled a police force already shaken with grief.
DELAGNES: You're thinking to yourself, OK, is she sorry that this kid died or is this just a political opportunity? What would her motives be to do this, so soon after the death?
K. HARRIS: Now, from the first moments after the killing, I was actively involved in the case. And the bottom line is that as a prosecutor, you have to make decisions based on the facts and the law, period, no matter how everyone rightly feels about what happened.
PHILLIP (voice-over): The controversy exploded at Espinosa's funeral.
ALLAN: It was a huge event in San Francisco. And Senator Dianne Feinstein got up and made a speech calling for the death penalty, and she got a standing ovation.
MESLOH: All the police officers stood up and so Kamala was alone, sitting down.
PHILLIP (voice-over): In an op-ed published a week after the funeral. Harris said in part, the district attorney is charged with seeking justice, not vengeance. I am bound by oath and law to make decisions about what charges to bring, not based on emotion, anger or politics, within 48 hours of a suspect's arrest.
K. HARRIS: He should not have been killed. He should be alive today. And there was a lot of anger associated with that. And I understand that. But I made a decision as I was elected to do based on the facts and the law.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris's tenure as D.A. had its ups and downs, including a huge drug scandal inside the Department.
ALLAN: It came out that technician for the San Francisco Police Department Crime Lab had been regularly skimming drugs from the lab. And this mattered because she was frequently testifying in cases for people who had been caught with drugs.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris's office was aware of problems with the technician months earlier. Ultimately, hundreds of cases were dismissed.
K. HARRIS: I was very upset about it. I was very upset about it. It resulted in an injustice for many people.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Despite the dismissals, Harris was determined to combat crime her way.
ALLAN: back on track is arguably one of her biggest successes as district attorney in San Francisco.
K. HARRIS: It's about success and it's about accountability, not criminality.
When I created the reentry initiative, we could name it back on track. People across the system criticize me they said what are you doing? You're supposed to be locking people up not letting them out. My whole point was that we need to give them resources.
SIMON: Do these young people have bus passes? Do these young people have access to dental care? Do we have everything that we need to ensure they'll never come back into the system, the hardest job I've ever had.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Up next, the Vice President-elect continues to climb the political ladder while walking a tightrope.
BAZELON: She had to be really careful. She had to walk a tightrope that white men who are more seen traditionally in these roles don't have to walk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Superstar Prosecutor Kamala Harris made history when she was elected California's first African-American female district attorney.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Kamala Harris's star was rising.
(on camera): President Obama took notice too.
MESLOH: I think from the first days that they met they really saw a lot of themselves in each other.
SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D-NV): Kamala has a presence about her.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Senator Catherine Cortez Masto was the Attorney General for neighboring Nevada.
MASTO: It's this confidence and not only who she is, but why she's there in the first place. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's California's most innovative district attorney.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris had just wrapped up seven years as San Francisco's D.A. Now she wanted to be California's top cop.
K. HARRIS: This system needs drastic repair.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Her opponent Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley came out swinging.
STEVE COOLEY, CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: She refused to pursue the death penalty against the killer, the gang member, the AK 47, wielding gang member who shot down Officer Isaac Espinosa. She declared her opposition before he was buried.
K. HARRIS: Steve, I think that you really should not go below the dignity of this debate or the office we seek.
PHILLIP (voice-over): A heated campaign that took weeks to declare a winner.
K. HARRIS: I stand before you today, humbled to be chosen to be the next Attorney General of the State of California.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Another historic victory for Harris becoming the first black and South Asian American woman elected as California's Attorney General. But the victory was bittersweet.
Your mother became ill.
K. HARRIS: It was intense. It's hospital visits, it's going to chemotherapy, and, you know, sitting there and hoping that you can make someone laugh while they're going through a horrible event. It is a very difficult time. Yes.
PHILLIP (on camera): How did you get through it?
K. HARRIS: One day at a time. One day at a time.
BRIAN NELSON, HARRIS'S SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was hired to do a couple of things but mortgage fraud wasn't one of them.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Brian Nelson was Harris's Special Assistant Attorney General.
NELSON: And I was deep in sort of the mortgage settlement negotiations with the largest five banks in the country.
PHILLIP (voice-over): After the financial crash in 2008, states sued these banks for foreclosure abuses. California was among the hardest hit with banks filing foreclosures on over 1 million homes. That's when Harris pulled up her chair to the table.
NELSON: We're in that negotiation. She's talking to the banks. We're flying around the country partnering with other A.G.'s.
MASTO: There's leverage right in that force of all the states coming together to take on some of the banks in Wall Street.
K. HARRIS: I determined that what the banks were offering California was crumbs on the table. So I pulled California out of the negotiations.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Standing in the trenches with Harris, Delaware's Attorney General Beau Biden.
K. HARRIS: His state hadn't been as hard hit as many around the foreclosures. But Beau, on a matter of principle said it's not right. And I'm going to stand with you guys. It was incredible how much heat we took and Beau stood there, Beau stood there.
PHILLIP (voice-over): The standoff paid off.
K. HARRIS: As a result of 13 months of intense discussions sometimes battle, we have delivered to California $18 billion in relief for California's homeowners.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Relief turned to reform when she revisited her Smart on Crime approach that she launched in San Francisco to crack down on truancy.
K. HARRIS: Who are the homicide victims who are under the age of 25? Who are they? A question that had not been asked. And it turned out 94 percent of them are high school dropouts.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris says she was trying to target social inequality, not families.
K. HARRIS: If you have those kinds of absentee rates among affluent neighborhoods of elementary school students, they'd be writing about it every day of the week. But what we were talking about are poor children, predominantly black children, and Latino children. And I said we got to do something about this.
PHILLIP (on camera): Was that the right role for the prosecutor's office to begin with.
BAZELON: That thought was, OK, we can use this big stick and scare the parents. And maybe if we do that, and threatened criminal prosecution, we can get the attendance numbers to go up.
PHILLIP (voice-over): The program was successful in San Francisco, reducing truancy by almost a quarter over a two-year period. But as attorney general, the program backfired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some parents were arrested for that, because of that law, couple went to jail.
K. HARRIS: Unintended consequences to be frank. When I was D.A., we never sent a parent to jail. My regret is that I have now heard stories that were in some jurisdictions, D.A.'s have criminalized the parents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
K. HARRIS: And I regret that that has happened because that certainly was not the intention, never was the intention.
PHILLIP (voice-over): For pundits, her intent has always been a balancing act.
BAZELON: All of these shootings of black men by police were in the news and the community was really outraged. People were really hoping, OK, she has enough political capital now that she can at least support legislation that's going to put her office in charge of the investigations and she didn't.
PHILLIP (on camera): Looking back on your record, do you think that you were walking that kind of tightrope as a woman, as a person of color walking into these rooms, as a prosecutor trying to do things that people hadn't done before?
K. HARRIS: Oh, I did do things people hadn't done before. There's no question about that. And certainly, there was plenty of pushback. It is just a fact that when you are trying to have people see things that they've never seen before, there's going to be reluctance, if not objection, to doing things differently, but you push forward and as people get to know you, they get to understand.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Coming up, a star-studded romance begins on a blind date.
EMHOFF: I violated every rule of dating, I believe.
PHILLIP (voice-over): It was literally a match made in Hollywood --
CHRISETTE HUDLIN, WIFE OF DIRECTOR, SCREENWRITER, AND PRODUCER REGINALD HUDLIN, KAMALA HARRIS' FRIEND: Oh my gosh, I must have known Kamala a good 20-25 years before I met Doug.
PHILLIP: -- produced by an actual Hollywood heavyweight who just happens to be Harris' best friend. Chrisette Hudlin met entertainment lawyer Doug Emhoff when she needed legal advice in 2013.
HUDLIN: We were so impressed with him.
DOUG EMHOFF, HUSBAND OF KAMALA HARRIS: And by the end of the hour, it was like yes, you seem pretty cool. I might want to set you up with somebody -- the -- you know, Kamala Harris. I'm like Kamala Harris? The attorney general? And she said yes, but I think you'd be great.
PHILLIP: Hudlin immediately called her decade's old best friend. HUDLIN: She was ignoring my calls. And I'm like she was got to answer because this guy is going to be calling her.
KAMALA HARRIS (D), U.S. VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: And you texted me that very same night. You were at a Laker's game.
EMHOFF: I was.
K. HARRIS: And I'm a Warriors fan.
EMHOFF: And she said go Lakers.
K. HARRIS: -- but I said go Kobe or something.
EMHOFF: I was like she said that -- she's --
K. HARRIS: And then you called -- yes, you called me that morning.
EMHOFF: I violated every rule of dating, I believe. I leave this long rambling voicemail and ended the call. And if you remember that scene in "Swingers" --
SCENE FROM "SWINGERS": You should call me tomorrow, or in two days, whatever. Anyway, my number is --
EMHOFF: That was me leaving the voicemail and I thought I'd never hear from her. But then --
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris had a break in her schedule and called him.
K. HARRIS: We ended up talking for like 45 minutes to an hour and just laughing the whole time.
PHILLIP (voice-over): A couple of days later, their first date.
EMHOFF: It felt like we had known each other and I just didn't want it to end. And so, the next morning I pulled the move of e-mailing her with my availability for the next four months, including long weekends.
And I said something like I'm too old to hide the ball. You're great. I want to see if we can make this work. Here's when I'm available next. And I guess it worked.
PHILLIP (on camera): How did you feel about that?
K. HARRIS: I was terrified.
MAYA HARRIS, KAMALA HARRIS' SISTER: I knew Doug was the right one when I saw how he made her laugh. Because one of the things that mommy used to always say is life will have its ups and downs, so you make sure that you find a life partner who makes you laugh.
PHILLIP (voice-over): And in this case, a life partner with children.
EMHOFF: I had been a single dad for several years, and I really wanted a partner. And then she came along, and it seemed like what are we waiting for? Just meet the kids and let's just get on with our lives. She put the brakes on it.
K. HARRIS: My parents divorced when I was young. I know what it's like to be a kid of divorced parents and your parents start dating other people, and I did not want to bond with the kids if we weren't sure what we had.
PHILLIP: Eventually, they were sure. So Harris met Ella and Cole, Emhoff's children from his first marriage.
K. HARRIS: It was actually more nerve-racking than our first date.
PHILLIP: But they bonded immediately.
EMHOFF: One of the kids said hey, there's an art exhibit at the school. Why don't we stop by? They never ask me to do that. Like, this must be going great. And so first time she meets the kids, first time we're at one of these art galleries, and then we're meeting a bunch of the parents at the school, she is meeting all their friends.
PHILLIP: A little more than a year later, they were married. Harris officially became a wife and a stepmother, or as Ella and Cole call her, Mamala.
EMHOFF: I think they wanted a term that's more personalized.
K. HARRIS: Yes.
EMHOFF: And expressed. There is a mom, Kirsten, and there is a mom, Mamala, Kamala. It evolved out of love. And out of like we just want our own way the say mom.
PHILLIP: This modern family settled in for a couple of years.
K. HARRIS: I do.
PHILLIP: Before Harris' fast-moving career shifted into high gear.
(on camera): Did you know that you were getting on this kind of rocket ship when you decided to do this?
PHILLIP: Has it sunk in?
EMHOFF: For our first couple of years, it was none of this. It was just two busy professionals.
PHILLIP (voice-over): But now everything has changed. When they sat down with us, the army of Secret Service and support staff make their new reality impossible to ignore.
UNNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much, sir, for your big idea.
PHILLIP: I think the entire world saw that literally in 2019 when you jumped up on the stage when someone was --
K. HARRIS: Indeed he did.
PHILLIP: Someone -- I mean you're laughing about it now, but it must have been a really scary moment.
EMHOFF: It was, it was. But it is my instinct to be incredibly protective of her, because I love her and my family. And I think what you saw there was just a very, you know, no thought at all there was no way I wasn't jumping up on that stage, which by the way was a real stage like this high. So as I'm rung up there, I say oh, my gosh, I better get up there because -- but it's just pure instinct. And, you know, I would do it again.
JILL LOUIS, SORORITY SISTER: He got our undying support at that moment because that's what any one of us would have wanted to do for her is to protect her and to be there for her.
LENORE POMERANCE, CLOSE FRIEND OF HARRIS' MOTHER: so as a mother, this is kind of what you want for your child's partner. And it's heartbreaking that Shyamala hasn't been around to meet him. She would love him.
PHILLIP (voice-over): And likely love all the places these two would go together.
K. HARRIS: Let's march on.
PHILLIP: Harris takes on the Senate, when we come back.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California attorney General Kamala Harris is expected to officially declare her run for the U.S. Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harris just filed her paperwork at the L.A. County registrar's office in Norwalk.
K. HARRIS: It is the duty to be a bold leader.
PHILLIP (voice-over): And Harris made a bold move.
K. HARRIS: And so I thank everyone here and at the top of my list, I thank my husband, Doug.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I was thrilled when she came to the Senate.
PHILLIP: New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. BOOKER: You have to understand, at that point I was the only African
American in my caucus, just the fourth black person ever elected in the senate. I just knew second black woman ever in the United States Senate with her gifts, that the sky would be the limit.
PHILLIP: But for Harris --
K. HARRIS: It's going to be a long night.
PHILLIP: Election night 2016 wasn't entirely hopeful.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: U.S. popular vote, Donald Trump has 48.9 percent. He is ahead.
PHILLIP (on camera): What was going through your mind that night?
K. HARRIS: My nephew, who at the time was 7, I think he was 7, came up to me with huge tears. He said "Auntie Kamala, that man can't win." He was terrified. And I said we will fight, we will fight, because there were a lot of folks who were terrified that night and continued to be terrified over four years.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: Do you solemnly support to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When she was elected in the senate, she was actually sworn in by Joe Biden.
LOUIS: You know, isn't life interesting and funny?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could see that they had this wonderful admiration for each other.
PHILLIP (on camera): In Washington, there is always sort of a trope that when you come in to the Senate, you should kind of keep your head down.
BOOKER: Look, I was told to follow the Hillary Clinton model when I arrived, keep your head down. But she didn't have the luxury of that. She was needed.
K. HARRIS: I believe we are a great country.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Harris' first speech on the Senate floor a defense of immigrants.
K. HARRIS: An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.
SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D), NEVADA: There was this complete attack on a whole segment of our communities. Now that she's working within the system, she was going to also be just as vocal to make that change. PHILLIP: Not just vocal, but surgical, a trained prosecutor in action,
grilling Trump administration officials and business leaders on Capitol Hill.
K. HARRIS: Is that policy in writing somewhere?
JEFF SESSIONS, FMR. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I -- I think so.
K. HARRIS: So did you not consult it before you came before this committee, knowing we would ask you questions about it?
SESSIONS: Well, we can. I'm not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.
K. HARRIS: Can you give me a yes or no answer, please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's not a short answer, senator.
K. HARRIS: It is. Either you are willing to do that or not.
Perhaps they suggested?
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I wouldn't say suggest.
K. HARRIS: Hinted?
BARR: I don't know.
K. HARRIS: Inferred? You don't know. OK.
You've been asked several critical questions for which you don't have answers.
BRIAN NELSON, FORMER CA SPECIAL ASST., AG: That's the kamala I know. She follows the facts and she'll get to the bottom of it.
MASTO: What you saw in those hearings is the Kamala that I saw in the rooms that we were with the banks and everything else that we -- were challenging us on the foreclosure crisis. That's who she is. When she is set in to fight on behalf of this country and people that are in need.
K. HARRIS: And I say this as a former prosecutor, we need a national use of force standard.
PHILLIP (voice-over): After years of enforcing the law as a prosecutor, the Senate gave Harris a chance to change it says Chris Cadelago a reporter for Politico.
CHRIS CADELAGO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: No longer being so centrally a part of law enforcement, no longer being a leader in law enforcement freed her up to get behind these reforms.
PHILLIP: In some case, shifting her position on issues like cash bail, which critics faulted her for enforcing as a prosecutor.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You know, the key thing is innocent until proven guilty. We're talking about an accusation.
CADELAGO: It really wasn't until she came to the senate that she met with Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, and they got together and came up with a plan.
K. HARRIS: We cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to criminal justice policy.
CADELAGO: And a bill to allow states to look at this and come up with alternatives to cash bail.
PHILLIP: They found common ground on that issue, but Harris and Paul would clash over his objection to anti-lynching legislation.
PAUL: This bill would cheapen the bill of lynching by defining it so broadly as to include a minor bruise or abrasion.
PHILLIP: Delivering one of her most emotional speeches on the Senate floor.
K. HARRIS: Black lives have not been taken seriously as being fully human and deserving of dignity. And it should not require a maiming or torture.
I approached Rand Paul early during the course of my time in the Senate about the need to reform America's money bail system. It is interesting to some, it was predictable to me, he said to me, "Kamala, Appalachia loves this because there are poor people all over the country who know the injustice of this system."
So we found common ground. On the issue of my anti-lynching bill, we did not. And so we had a healthy debate on the floor of the Senate, and yes, I was outraged and disappointed with his position, and there you go.
PHILLIP: It was that outrage and those strong moments at hearings that gave Harris a more national presence. A presence that got people talking about the presidency.
K. HARRIS: I stand before you today --
PHILLIP: Harris' run for the White House, when we return.
K. HARRIS: -- for the president of the United States.
PHILLIP (voice-over): It was the end of June 2019, the highly anticipated first democratic presidential debate.
M. HARRIS: It was such a huge field. A diverse field.
PHILLIP (on camera): Was there a sense that she needed a big moment?
M. HARRIS: I think everyone goes into the presidential debate certainly wanting to be remembered.
K. HARRIS: This economy is not working for working people.
PHILLIP (voice-over): The opportunity came, and in a sea of candidates, the eyes of the nation were focused on just two.
K. HARRIS: You also worked with him to oppose busing, and, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.
PHILLIP: It was a breakthrough Harris needed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the debates I really confirmed my support for her.
M. HARRIS: People learned something about her and her background that they didn't know in that moment.
PHILLIP: A pivotal moment for a campaign that began less than a year earlier with high hopes.
K. HARRIS: I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States.
BOOKER: I knew she was a person of destiny.
LATEEFAH SIMON, PRESIDENT OF AKONADI FOUNDATION: There were tens of thousands, maybe millions, of women of color and our allies who sir surrounded kamala and loved when she ran because folks saw themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California Senator Kamala Harris.
PHILLIP: That viral moment may have been a sugar high.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That little girl you just introduced, that little girl was me.
PHILLIP: By the fall, her numbers came back to earth. So Harris doubled down on the first caucus state of Iowa.
K. HARRIS: Thank you for being here.
CADELAGO: Her campaign felt like the more people saw Kamala, particularly in these unguarded moments, in people's homes, in their living rooms, that they'd come to really know her and like her.
K. HARRIS: Are we going to have a family dinner? Yes?
PHILLIP: But ultimately, it wasn't enough.
CADELAGO: People were interested, they were excited, but it was just too late. There weren't enough of them. They had already fallen for other candidates. K. HARRIS: At the caucuses. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
PHILLIP: And she ran out of money. By December 3rd, before any caucus, any vote had even happened -
K. HARRIS: I'm suspending our campaign today.
Making a decision to get out of a race is probably as difficult as making a decision to get into a race.
BOOKER: Kamala Harris is a glass ceiling breaker, name taker, history maker. If somebody like her could not make it that far, what does it say about our country with somebody with that qualifications?
PHILLIP: But some of her qualifications like her career as a prosecutor became a source of criticism from both sides of the aisle.
(on camera): Do you feel like you were misunderstood?
K. HARRIS: There are a lot of nuances in what it means to be a prosecutor, especially in this moment that is, i think, long overdue where America's coming to a reckoning on a lot of issues that deal with racial injustice.
PHILLIP (voice-over): People inside and outside the campaign say her candidacy was hurt by disorganization, infighting, and mixed messaging.
CADELAGO: There were constant disagreements over strategy and message and direction.
M. HARRIS: And when you look at how everything unfolded, so many people entered the race for the presidency, most people didn't go the distance.
PHILLIP: But it turns out Harris would end up going the distance but in a different direction.
UNIDENTIDIED MALE: Would you consider Senator Harris as a running mate?
JOE BIDEN (D), U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: Of course, I would.
PHILLIP: Harris' old friendship with Biden's son, Beau, who died in 2015, made her path a little easier.
K. HARRIS: Beau was an extraordinary human being and we became very close. I got to know Joe, his father, as a person.
PHILLIP: Perhaps, not so surprising, then, when the call came on August 11th, 2020.
K. HARRIS: Hi, sorry to keep you.
BIDEN: That's all right. You ready to go to work? K. HARRIS: The answer is absolutely, yes, Joe, and I am ready to work.
I am ready to do this with you, for you. I'm just deeply honored, and I'm very excited.
M. HARRIS: Some people would say, well, you know, that's one of the world's greatest comeback stories, being second only to Joe Biden.
PHILLIP: Together, they'd fight Donald Trump and eventually history would be made.
K. HARRIS: While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.
PHILLIP: Surrounded by those who love and inspire her, yet missing the one who started it all.
M. HARRIS: Our mother would be so proud. She would be so proud.
PHILLIP (on camera): Do you think that she always saw this for you, in you? Did she raise you to do this?
K. HARRIS: She did not raise me to be vice president of the United States, but she did raise me and my sister to believe that we could do anything if we put the hard work into it, and there you are. There you are.
PHILLIP (voice-over): And here she is, a woman of color, a wife, a Momala, a prosecutor, a senator, and now the vice president-elect of the United States of America. The first in so many ways and so many times. And now Kamala Harris once again has made history.
K. HARRIS: Good evening.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): A new chapter, Joe Biden's presidency set to begin behind a wall and thousands of troops with MAGA terror chatter off the charts.
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BIDEN: I'm not afraid taking the oath outside.
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TAPPER (voice-over): How safe will inauguration be? What will his first 100 days look like? Incoming white House Chief of Staff Ron Klain is here exclusively.
And take two. All eyes on the Senate has the house votes to impeach president trump with bipartisan support.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have a minute to spare. He's a clear and present danger to the people.
TAPPER (voice-over): But with the president in office for just three more days, what will a trial even look like? I'll speak exclusively to lead House Impeachment Manager Congressman Jamie Raskin and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin next.
Plus, three more days. President trump prepares to leave office having caused the American carnage he railed against four years ago, after all the division, destruction, and death, what will his legacy be? Trump's former Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster weighs in.