Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid sits in the witness stand, Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Las Vegas. Reid testified in his negligence lawsuit against the maker of an exercise device. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid was challenged Friday about his "veracity" and truthfulness after saying that his political career was cut short by an eye injury that he blames on an exercise band maker.
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Attorney Laurin Quiat, representing the maker of the stretchy resistance device TheraBand, followed Reid's statement to a jury hearing his civil negligence lawsuit that right eye blindness and facial injuries Reid received in the New Year's Day 2015 accident were "the main factor" he decided not to seek a sixth Senate term in 2016.
Quiat showed a 2015 video announcement in which Reid said he wouldn't run and would instead devote his last 22 months as Senate Democratic minority leader to fighting for party issues and control.
"The decision that I have made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury," Reid said in the video, "and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be reelected."
Reid, now 79 and using a wheelchair following treatment for pancreatic cancer and back surgery, said from the witness stand that he didn't want people to think at the time that he couldn't do his elected job.
"I told you once, I told you more than twice: I wanted the people of Nevada to know I wasn't incapacitated," he said.
"Sir, we're talking about your veracity here right now," said Quiat, representing Ohio-based Hygenic Corp. "You're (sworn) to tell the truth, do you understand that?"
"I understand that," Reid replied. "One thing I try to do, despite your insinuations ... I try to tell the truth."
Quiat asked Reid to explain why he initially said the exercise band broke and that he described it as having been mounted to a "sturdy object" or hook in the bathroom wall.
Reid now acknowledges the elastic band didn't break and that it had been looped it through a shower door handle when it slipped from his grip.
"Senator," Quiat asked, "what hook are you describing?"
Reid said it was the metal handle on a glass shower door the jury saw in photos on Thursday, when he testified that a TheraBand slipped from his hand and he spun and fell face-first against cabinets in his bathroom.
"It wasn't a wall. The thing that the band was hooked on was the metal hook on the shower door," Reid said. "We don't have one on the wall."
Quiat also challenged Reid's comments to the jury that if the device had handles it wouldn't have slipped his grasp.
The company lawyer noted Friday that handles are sold separately for the device.
Reid said he had been given the device by congressional exercise therapists and he didn't know handles were available.
Reid and his wife, Landra, seek monetary claims on claims of civil negligence and failure to warn the public that the device is dangerous for elderly people like him. Trial is scheduled to continue next week.
Quiat maintains that Reid misused the device and the company isn't at fault.
The company lawyer also says the jury will never know for sure if the device Reid was using was actually made by Hygenic because Reid family members discarded it after the senator was injured.