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America held 'hostage': Kamala Harris, eyeing 2020, slams Trump over the shutdown

"The president is holding the American people hostage over this vanity project. This is a crisis of his own making," Harris said.
Sen. Kamala Harris
Sen. Kamala Harris on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."Anthony Scutro / MSNBC

Sen. Kamala Harris said Friday that she plans to make a decision "soon" about whether she will seek the presidency in 2020.

"I believe our country wants and needs some leadership that provides a vision of the country in which everyone could see themselves," Harris said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" when asked why she wants to be president.

However, the California Democrat has sidestepped questions about when she would officially toss her hat in the ring. Her Senate colleague, Elizabeth Warren, announced her candidacy earlier this month in what is expected to be a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

Harris was on the program to promote her memoir, "The Truths We Hold," which was published this week. In the book, Harris addresses the liberal critiques of her record as a prosecutor as she nears a decision on whether to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

Harris slammed the president during the interview over his role in the partial government shutdown, which is nearing the end of its third week. Trump is demanding billions to build his long-promised border wall, which Democrats have rejected, leading to the budget impasse that has resulted in the shutdown.

"The president is holding the American people hostage over this vanity project," Harris said. "This is a crisis if his own making."

The senator said that the president, who has floated the idea of declaring a national emergency as a way of bypassing Congress to build the wall, is using "political manipulation" in the fight over the wall and putting national security at risk.

"(Trump) is choking the very people who are responsible for making sure we have public safety on a day-to-day basis," she said, referring to the thousands of unpaid workers at the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI.

"It's actually harmful on daily basis to real people," she added.

Harris called on other lawmakers and the American people to speak out and put pressure on the administration to accept legislation that would reopen the government.

"People have to speak up. There is power in that," she said. "There is power in elected members of the United States Congress speaking up in the interest of their constituency and the American public."