Opening arguments from both the House managers and President Donald Trump’s defense team have concluded in the Senate’s ongoing impeachment trial, and based on the undeniably solid job done by the president’s attorneys, there are rumblings in the media about the possibility that a handful of Democrat senators may join Republicans in voting for Trump’s acquittal.
One senator who has now been mentioned as a possible vote to acquit, Breitbart reported, is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who suggested to reporters on Tuesday that “the people should judge” whether Trump should remain in office in the upcoming election. But the senator later claimed that the media simply “misunderstood” what she had said.
Feinstein: “The people should judge”
The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that Feinstein may have signaled she was considering a vote to acquit while speaking with a number of reporters following the conclusion of the Trump defense team’s opening arguments.
The long-serving California senator noted that she had been generally opposed to impeachment from the start, saying: “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.”
Feinstein added: “That was my view and it still is my view.”
However, she did appear to leave herself some wiggle room by suggesting that her opinions had shifted somewhat over the course of the trial.
Walking it back
That story from the Los Angeles Times instantly sparked speculation about how Feinstein might vote on the impeachment articles, but according to Axios reporter Alayna Treene, the Times may have gotten it all wrong.
Treene wrote in a tweet Tuesday night: “I think the [LA Times] has this story backwards. I was the reporter who asked [Feinstein] 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.”
Similarly, Feinstein herself issued a brief statement via Twitter claiming that she had been “misunderstood” and implying that she was actually leaning toward voting for conviction and removal, though she didn’t come right out and say it.
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
Let voters decide
To say there has been some confusion on the left about Sen. Feinstein’s intentions with regard to the articles of impeachment would be an understatement.
The thing is, whether she feels she was “misunderstood” or not, Feinstein’s initial response was the correct one — there is an election coming up within the year, and it awfully presumptive for senators to believe they can usurp the will of voters and decide for themselves whether a duly-elected president in the midst of a campaign should be allowed to remain in office or not.