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CNN calls out Kamala Harris for false claim that she sued ExxonMobil

In fact, she never sued that particular oil company

Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CNN found that presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris's claim from Wednesday that she sued ExxonMobil was completely false.

What's the background?

During CNN's seven-hour-long climate town hall on Wednesday, Harris was asked by an audience member about whether she'd take on big businesses to advance an environmental agenda. She said that, like with the tobacco companies years earlier, "people who profit off of harmful behaviors, when you take away that money, because you take them to court and sue them as I have done, it's extraordinary how they will change behaviors. They have to be held accountable. And maybe this is the prosecutor in me. They have to be held accountable. These are bad behaviors." She then criticized President Donald Trump and the Republican party for not targeting these companies.

"So, Sen. Harris, what would you do. Would you sue them?" town hall host and CNN anchor Erin Burnett asked.

"Yes!" Harris responded.

"Would you sue ExxonMobil?"

"I have sued ExxonMobil!" Harris quickly shot back with a laugh. Applause ensued.

It was a great comeback that got a great response. Unfortunately for Harris, it was also not true.

CNN Climate Town Hall with Democrats Kamala Harris 9/4/19 | Climate Crisis youtu.be

What did CNN say?

In its fact check of Harris, CNN noted that while Harris had sued other energy companies, and had started an investigation into ExxonMobil while she was attorney general of California, "her claim at the town hall was that she sued ExxonMobil in particular, and it is false."

What did Harris's campaign say?

On Twitter, Harris campaign press secretary Ian Sam responded to a tweet on this topic by CNN reporter Daniel Dale, one of the people behind the network's fact check.

"Trump spent the morning potentially illegally teasing out jobs numbers and lying about a massive hurricane's trajectory, but sure, let's spend our time on whether, as Attorney General, Kamala "sued" vs. "investigated" Exxon," Sams wrote. "She won $50M for California suing oil companies."

He then posted links examples on California's Department of Justice website of instances where Harris had sued Chevron, BP, Phillips 66, and ConocoPhillips during her time as attorney general of the state.

Sams had also referred CNN's fact checkers to her 2016 investigation into ExxonMobil.

One last thing…
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