Veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said that she could vote for President Donald Trump’s acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, after White House lawyers concluded opening arguments Tuesday.
Initially @SenFeinstein says she was against impeaching Trump because “the people should judge” in 2020-“that still is my view” Says hasn’t made up mind, serious questions about Trump’s “character”-but the fact that she’s even a maybe on ultimate acquittal vote pretty interesting
— Molly O’Toole (@mollymotoole) January 28, 2020
The Los Angeles Times reported that Feinstein was still undecided, but leaning toward acquittal:
“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.”
An Axios reporter disagreed with the Times‘ interpretation of Feinstein’s answer, pointing out that Feinstein had said the opening arguments on both sides had moved her closer to the House Democrats’ position:
But when I asked her to clarify, she said she's changed her opinion https://t.co/sJeYl2VkNl
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) January 28, 2020
Feinstein, who won re-election to her sixth term in 2018, has dissented from Democratic orthodoxy before. She faced protests from party activists in early 2017 after she voted for several Trump cabinet picks and suggested that Trump could turn out to be a “good president.”
Currently, media coverage has focused on Republicans’ internal debates about whether to accede to Democrats’ demand to call new witnesses — after Democrats denied all Republican requests for new witnesses in the House.
But Feinstein’s response Tuesday points toward a bigger problem: Democrats may have failed to convince members of their own caucus that there is a convincing case for removing Trump from office.
UPDATE 5:50 p.m. ET:
After the publication of the Los Angeles Times article, Feinstein challenged the newspaper’s report and said the newspaper misunderstood her. She tweeted that she thinks what Trump allegedly did was wrong.
The LA Times misunderstood what I said today. 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.
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) January 28, 2020
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.