Diane Feinstein seems like a true “blue blood” Democrat.
But her comments today have caused quite a stir!
A report in the LA Times ran earlier today claiming that Feinstein was leaning towards voting AGAINST impeachment:
MSN also reported:
Just after President Trump’s defense lawyers ended arguments in their Senate trial Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggested she could vote to acquit him, despite serious concerns about his character.
“Nine months left to go, the people should judge. We are a republic, we are based on the will of the people — the people should judge,” Feinstein said Tuesday, after the president’s team finished a three-day presentation in his defense. “That was my view and it still is my view.”
Still, she indicated that arguments in the trial about Trump’s character and fitness for office had left her undecided. “What changed my opinion as this went on,” she said, is a realization that “impeachment isn’t about one offense. It’s really about the character and ability and physical and mental fitness of the individual to serve the people, not themselves.”
Asked whether she would ultimately vote to acquit, she demurred, saying, “We’re not finished.”
After those remarks were published, Feinstein issued a statement saying she had been misunderstood.
“Before the trial I said I’d keep an open mind. Now that both sides made their cases, it’s clear the president’s actions were wrong. He withheld vital foreign assistance for personal political gain. That can’t be allowed to stand.”
Feinstein’s original remark went further than any of her fellow Democrats in suggesting that she might vote for acquittal. Several Democrats have not ruled out voting for acquittal. But only two Democrats were considered truly up for grabs because of the strong support for Trump in their states: Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama.
Manchin told CNN on Saturday that Trump’s team did a “good job” in its initial arguments, “making me think about things.” He said separately on Fox, “I am totally undecided.”
Feinstein’s comments came after final arguments from Trump lawyers in which they broadly dismissed the elephant in the Senate chamber: a leaked firsthand account from John Bolton, the former national security advisor, that the president directly tied aid to Ukraine to his demands for the country to investigate political rival Joe Biden.
Feinstein told reporters that her office had received roughly 125,000 letters in support of the impeachment last week, and about 30,000 against it. “There is substantial weight to this,” she said, “and the question is: Is it enough to cast this vote?”
The revelation on Sunday from a draft manuscript of Bolton’s upcoming book, undercut the president’s defense and splintered Republicans, leaving a few of them calling for Bolton and other witnesses to testify. GOP leaders have opposed calling witnesses, which would prolong the trial and introduce potentially damning testimony, upending White House and Senate Republicans’ plans for Trump’s quick acquittal.
The trial is heading into a crucial stage. On Wednesday senators are planning to start their public questioning of both the defense team and the Democratic House impeachment managers, with key votes on whether to call witnesses. The outcome of a vote on allowing witnesse, expected Friday, remained uncertain after a closed-door strategy session of Senate Republicans on Tuesday afternoon. “No clear conclusions,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.).
After the Trump team initially sidestepped the Bolton reports in their arguments Monday, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow urged the Senate on Tuesday to ignore the recent reports.
Impeachment, Sekulow said, “is not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts. That is politics unfortunately.” Alexander Hamilton, he continued, “put impeachment in the hands of this body, the Senate, precisely and specifically, to be above that fray.” The Senate, Sekulow said, should “end the era of impeachment for good.”
But then Feinstein said the LA Times got it all wrong:
Fox News explained the confusion:
A story in the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday caused an uproar on social media after it characterized comments from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to say she is leaning "toward acquitting Trump" -- causing the Democratic senator to fire back that the paper “misunderstood what I said.”
According to the Times, Feinstein was asked by reporters whether or not she would ultimately vote to acquit President Trump.
“Nine months left to go, the people should judge," Feinstein said, according to the paper, alluding to the 2020 presidential election. "We are a republic, we are based on the will of the people -- the people should judge.”
“That was my view and it still is my view," she added.
The LA Times' headline reported her comments with the headline: "Feinstein leans toward acquitting Trump as his lawyers end their impeachment defense arguments."
Feinstein eventually clarified on Twitter, suggesting that she is actually leaning toward voting to remove Trump from office.
"The LA Times misunderstood what I said today. Before the trial I said I'd keep an open mind," Feinstein tweeted. "Now that both sides made their cases, it’s clear the president’s actions were wrong. He withheld vital foreign assistance for personal political gain. That can’t be allowed to stand."
After Feinstein challenged the story, the Times changes its headline to: "Feinstein says she’s a maybe on acquitting Trump as his defense team ends impeachment arguments."
Speaking to reporters, Feinstein offered other remarks that seemed to shed light on her decision-making -- including comments that the paper acknowledged might have been a nod to House impeachment managers' arguments about Trump's fitness for office.
“Impeachment isn’t about one offense," she said, remarking on how she changed her opinion as the impeachment process proceeded. "It’s really about the character and ability and physical and mental fitness of the individual to serve the people, not themselves.”
Feinstein, who serves as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and is considered one of the body's more liberal members.
Her comments came as the president's defense team presented its case for why House impeachment managers were wrong to argue for Trump's removal.
Republicans have maintained that House Democrats pushed impeachment as a partisan attempt to thwart the will of Americans who voted for Trump in 2016.
As the LA Times noted, only Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. -- a perceived moderate, has indicated that he might not vote for Trump's removal. “I am totally undecided," he said.
Democratic votes likely won't influence the ultimate outcome, as the Republican majority seemed united behind the president. It's unclear how long the process will last, but a recent report about former National Security Adviser John Bolton raised further questions.
Bolton claimed that he heard Trump explicitly state his interest in withholding Ukrainian military aid until the government carried out investigations into Democrats, including Joe Biden.
Trump’s legal team argued forcefully against the relevance of testimony from Bolton on Tuesday as they concluded their impeachment trial defense. “This should end now, as quickly as possible,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone declared, capping a defense presentation that painted Trump as a victim and took dismissive swipes at Bolton, the potential witness who has scrambled Republican hopes for a swift end to the trial.