Kamala Harris chosen as Biden’s running mate: What to know

Harris served 25 years as a prosecutor in California and six as the state's 'top cop'

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After much anticipation, Joe Biden announced Tuesday his vice presidential pick would be Kamala Harris, the senator from California and his former opponent in the presidential primary.

Harris, a former prosecutor whose most high-profile moment on the presidential campaign trail came during a summer debate when she dissected Biden on his past stances on bussing students to desegregate schools, may have the take-no-prisoners attitude needed to square up against the Trump-Pence ticket.

Here are five things to know about Biden’s running mate and the potential first female vice president:

Harris would be the first black and first female vice president. 

The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris checks the box for those who pressured Biden to pick a Black female running mate in light of racial injustice protests across the country.

Harris’ race played out in one of her most memorable debate moments. She challenged Biden's opposition to federally mandated busing when he was in the Senate, telling him she benefited from the program to integrate schools.

"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. That little girl was me," Harris said.


Harris served as California’s “top cop."

Harris served 25 years as a prosecutor in California. After spending her childhood in Oakland, California, Harris attended historically black college Howard University before attending law school at U.C. Hastings.

After law school, Harris served eight years in Alameda County District Attorney's office where she prosecuted child sexual assault cases. She served as San Francisco’s district attorney from 2004 to 2011 and California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017.

Harris’ record as “top cop” could fire back amid a renewed focus on police brutality

Biden himself has attacked Harris’ record as a prosecutor. In a debate last August, Biden accused the California senator of keeping nonviolent prisoners behind bars during her tenure as California attorney general because they were a source of cheap labor for the state.

“What happened? Along came a federal judge and said enough is enough and he freed 1,000 of these people,” Biden said as he argued that Harris was forced by a judge to release the prisoners.

In the same debate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard slammed Harris’ record on marijuana violations.

“She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” the congresswoman argued.The figure apparently comes from a Washington Free Beacon article in February.

As Gabbard indicated, Harris has softened toward the issue since. Harris said in an interview earlier this year that she smoked marijuana as a college student, laughing at the memory.

Gabbard also charged that Harris “in the case of those who are on death row, innocent people, you blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so.”

The congresswoman from Hawaii was likely pointing to the murder case of Kevin Cooper – who was convicted in 1983 of a quadruple homicide. The death row inmate came close to execution in 2004 when Harris, as attorney general, denied Cooper’s request for newly advanced DNA testing. In February of this year, newly elected California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered new DNA testing.


Hints were dropped that Harris could be the VP pick. 

After Harris dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden’s campaign, Biden indicated that he wanted her to have a heavy hand in his campaign. "I’m so lucky to have you be a part of this partnership going forward. Working together, we can make a great deal of progress. ... I’m coming for you, kid," Biden said.

In April, Harris formed a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee, meaning that the groups could raise money together with a maximum of $2,800 per contributor going to pay off Harris' presidential campaign debts and $357,800 going to the Democratic Party.

The peculiar arrangement is typically reserved for parties' presidential nominees and could indicate that Biden and the Democratic party are seriously considering Harris as a viable VP contender, and at the very least shows the national party looks favorably upon the California senator and wants her to play a major role in its 2020 strategy.

As Biden pointed out, Harris touts her tough-on-banks record. 

“Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I'm proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign,” Biden said in announcing his running mate.

Harris often promotes her record on taking banks to task during the financial crisis forcing big banks to make amends to customers hurt during the financial crisis.

During the 2008 financial crisis, a group of attorneys general, officials from Housing and Urban Development and Justice departments and others sought to address revelations that top banks had rushed through a flood of foreclosures as mortgage defaults skyrocketed.

Harris pulled her state out of national negotiations pursuing the monetary settlement from major banks, believing she could do better for her state.

Harris later reached a $25 billion settlement deal from J.P. Morgan and other banks, which she said was a much higher number than was originally on the table, but some question her influence over the deal. 

Others question why the former California AG did not prosecute Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for violating state foreclosure laws. Journalist Aaron Glantz wrote in a 2019 book that Harris allowed Mnuchin’s OneWest Bank at the time to illegally foreclose on tens of thousands of families and then tried to bury a report with the evidence.

Fox News' Tyler Olson and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.