CNN host Van Jones issued a rare rebuke against a fellow Democrat on Friday, expressing his disapproval of presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris' decision to back out of a criminal justice reform conference because President Donald Trump was given an award at the forum before she was slated to attend.
What are the details?Benedict College, a historically black college in South Carolina, presented President Trump with an award in person on Friday, recognizing his work to pass the First Step Act — his signature criminal justice reform law. The president gave a speech discussing how he plans to build on the initial legislation.
The Democratic presidential candidates were all invited to speak at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College on Saturday. But when the news broke that President Trump would be honored, Harris made a public declaration that she would find better ways to spend her time than attend the event.
"As the only candidate who attended an [Historically Black College or University], I know the importance that these spaces hold for young Black Americans," Harris said in a statement.
"Today, when it became clear Donald Trump would receive an award after decades of celebrating mass incarceration, pushing the death penalty for innocent Black American, rolling back police accountability measures and racist behavior that puts people's lives at risk...I cannot in good faith be complicit in papering over his record," Harris added.
Harris, who has taken plenty of heat, herself, for her record on criminal justice as California's former attorney general, will instead hold a separate round table discussion for students from around Columbia, South Carolina — to city where Benedict College is located, The Hill reported.
Jones made it clear he disagreed with Harris' choice, when he reacted to presidential candidate Sen. Corey Booker's (D-N.J.) declaration that he would still attend the forum on Saturday, because he wanted to be there to present his views "directly."
"I will be there, too, @CoryBooker," Jones wrote on Twitter. "Running away from a conversation has never solved anything. 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."