In a matter of hours, Sen. Dianne Feinstein seemed to abruptly flip from telling reporters that the American people should be the final arbiters in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to loudly proclaiming his guilt. The speedy about-face led some to speculate that perhaps the so-called “Deep State” had gotten to her.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the president’s legal team concluded their defense, the California senator made remarks that seemed to signal she wasn’t completely sure about convicting the president.
“Nine months left to go [before the election], the people should judge. 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 said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Times interpreted her remarks as an indication that she was considering acquitting the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice:
Breaking: Sen. Dianne Feinstein became the first Democrat to suggest that she could vote to acquit President Trump despite serious concerns about his character. https://t.co/82GoQkmpAB
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) January 28, 2020
The story seen above quickly went viral across social media:
Senator Dianne Feinstein becomes first Democrat to suggest possible vote to acquit President Trump https://t.co/1QFPs4KOCg
— R. D. Maxwell (@dolphinfish55) January 28, 2020
BREAKING: Sen. Feinstein suggests she may acquit Trump; the CA senator is the first Democrat to say they’re learning toward acquitting the president in his impeachment case https://t.co/F3i72tyUxK
— KTLA (@KTLA) January 28, 2020
Can’t say I was expecting that ?https://t.co/JJMzUqyM5J
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) January 28, 2020
This is something to keep an eye on. https://t.co/jdRxWv2yAp
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) January 29, 2020
Democrat Feinstein says she may vote to acquit Trump https://t.co/lu0OO6c1po
— MSN News (@MSNNews) January 28, 2020
Oh my God, @SenFeinstein just said she might acquit @realDonaldTrump. I told you these conservative Democrats are Republicans in their core. Will @ChristyforCA25 reject Feinstein’s endorsement now or does she also think Trump should be acquitted? https://t.co/WnGk4T4UUq
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) January 28, 2020
About thirty minutes after the report’s publication, however, the senator dropped a tweet claiming the Times had misinterpreted her remarks.
“The LA Times misunderstood what I said today,” she wrote. “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.”
A couple hours later, Savannah Behrmann of USA Today published a report providing a more detailed analysis of what Feinstein had actually said earlier that day.
“In a scrum with reporters in the Capitol subway after Trump’s Senate impeachment trial adjourned for the day, Feinstein said she had initially leaned in favor of acquittal, but after the six days of presentations in the trial, she was reconsidering,” Behrmann wrote.
“‘I was going to vote against it” Feinstein said. She then clarified that she meant impeachment. She said the trial testimony was ‘such a window that opens you to the thinking of the man in charge.’ When asked to clarify again whether she would have voted against impeachment before the trial, she said initially favored allowing the voters to decide Trump’s fate in November.”
“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. That was my view and it still is my view,” Feinstein then said, as reported by Behrmann.
While the senator claimed that her remarks about letting the American people be the ultimate arbiters of Trump’s fate were just a recap of how she’d initially felt about the matter going into the president’s impeachment trial, both the Times and Behrmann reported that she’d said she “still” maintains this viewpoint.
And so yes, judging by her remarks, it did seem there was a chance she might acquit the president. Yet for some inexplicable reason, she felt compelled to post the following tweet:
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
Her abrupt walk-back inspired conspiracy theories about Feinstein being visited by the “Deep State,” as well as rebukes from those annoyed by her inability to stick to her own words:
Sounds like someone got a visit by the Deep State.
So did they threaten you in general, or just straight up pay you?
— Mindy Robinson ?? (@iheartmindy) January 29, 2020
Oh DIANE the Democrat bullies got to you didn’t they? I left California because it’s become such a pit I never voted for you but I always thought you were a fair minded person. I no longer think that. This is a sham, no crime just opinions feelings and policy differences! STOP
— Barb55 ??❤️?? (@fivestarr6028) January 29, 2020
“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. “That was my view and it still is my view.”
If you mean that, you’ll acquit.
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) January 28, 2020
“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 3-day presentation in his defense. “That was my view and it still is my view.”
— Andrew Ross (@Professorross) January 29, 2020
“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 … “That was my view and it still is my view.”https://t.co/Jv7RNR9FIX
— Burt Carey?? (@BurtCarey) January 28, 2020
The good news for Republicans is that she’s not the only Democrat who’s been reported as considering his/her options.
“Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama are undecided on whether to vote to remove the president from office and agonizing over where to land,” Politico confirmed Tuesday.
Of course, there’s always the chance they too will flip-flop like Feinstein (or John Bolton) once the story goes viral.
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