Kamala Harris flip-flops on attending criminal justice forum, after announcing boycott over Trump award
In a bizarre back-and-forth on her attendance, Kamala Harris said Saturday she would, in fact, go to a criminal justice forum in South Carolina, despite very publicly announcing she would boycott the event due to a sponsoring group’s decision to give an award to President Trump.
The 2020 presidential hopeful on Friday announced that she would skip the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, after the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center awarded the president for his efforts to pass sweeping criminal justice reform legislation.
Harris, D-Calif., and Trump traded barbs on Twitter Saturday morning—with Trump calling Harris a “badly failing presidential candidate,” and Harris suggesting the president is a “criminal.”
But by midday, Harris had come around, with a campaign announcement that she would, in fact, be attending the forum, with her campaign claiming that she successfully pressured the group that awarded the president to be dropped as a sponsor.
“After Senator Kamala Harris stood up and objected to their group awarding Trump and excluding HBCU students from participating, the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center was removed as a sponsor for the criminal justice forum at Benedict College,” the Harris campaign said in a statement Saturday. “After their removal, Harris announced she will join students, Mayor Steve Benjamin and the broader Columbia community on campus at Benedict to discuss critical issues for the country’s justice system.”
A spokesman for the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
The organization on Friday awarded the president for his administration’s work to pass the First Step Act, which grants early release to thousands of nonviolent offenders who are currently serving time in federal prisons.
The First Step Act legislation received bipartisan support—including from Harris.
The senator has come under fire for her own record on criminal justice reform, but her campaign has consistently touted the progressive aspects of her career as district attorney and later attorney general of California, which include introducing a proposal for nationwide bail reform, as well as legalizing marijuana, which is part of her comprehensive criminal justice reform agenda, as rolled out by her campaign.
As of mid-week, polls showed Harris behind former Vice President Joe Biden, the top contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, by nearly 22 points, drawing only 5.3 percent support, according to RealClear Politics.
A recent Fox News poll also showed Harris with 5 percent support in the race.
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.