Feinstein Disputes Report That She Was Leaning Toward Voting to Acquit Trump

January 29, 2020 Updated: January 29, 2020
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) disputed a report that claimed the senator suggested she might vote to acquit President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.

If true, Feinstein, 86, would have been the first Democrat to suggest a vote to acquit Trump.

A Los Angeles Times article stated, “Feinstein suggests she is leaning toward acquitting Trump in the impeachment trial.” The article was widely circulated before Feinstein issued a statement on social media disputing the report.

“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,” Feinstein stated.

“He withheld vital foreign assistance for personal political gain. That can’t be allowed to stand.”

Feinstein also shared a post by Alayna Treene, a reporter with Axios.

“I think the @latimes has this story backwards. I was the reporter who asked @SenFeinstein these questions. She told me she was initially going to vote against impeachment ‘before this’ but when I asked her to clarify, she said she’s changed her opinion,” Treene wrote.

Treene released a transcript of Feinstein’s remarks to reporters, including where Feinstein said that she “was going to vote against it.”

Asked what she was going to vote against, Feinstein said: “Impeachment. Before this.”

“But the problem with it is, it is such a window that opens you to the thinking of the man in charge. That is rather profound, that he could do this, and pick up the phone and call the head of another country, in a war, and we supported that other country with almost $400 million, and the other country’s Russia, and this country is Ukraine, and they’re an ally, and what does that say?” she added.

Asked to clarify what she meant about being prepared to vote against impeachment, Feinstein said: “Nine months left to go. The people should judge. We are a republic. This is based on the will of the people, the people should judge. That’s my view and it is still my view.”

But she said she’d changed her opinion as the impeachment trial “unfolded.” Pressed on whether she’d vote against impeaching Trump, Feinstein demurred. “You’ll see when we vote,” Feinstein said.

Treene called it “a very confusing back and forth.”

The Los Angeles Times updated its article to say that Feinstein “suggested that while she had serious concerns about Trump’s character, she is still weighing her ultimate vote on whether to acquit him.”

Feinstein said in a statement her office released on Tuesday that the Senate needs to hear from ex-National Security Advisor John Bolton.

“Right now, some senators suggest there isn’t evidence that President Trump withheld aid to Ukraine for the purpose of influencing the 2020 election. This is why John Bolton’s testimony is so important,” she said.

“Bolton is potentially a firsthand, corroborating witness to information that has been placed in evidence based on his direct interactions with the president.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber