Sen. Dianne Feinstein surprised a San Francisco audience Tuesday with a hopeful message about President Donald Trump, telling the crowd that “I believe he can be a good president,” but only if he changes how he has operated thus far.
“The question is whether he can learn and change,” Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report. “If so, I believe he can be a good president.”
Story Continued Below
By Wednesday afternoon, the senator’s office had released a statement on her behalf, using much stronger language to criticize the president.
“I’ve been strongly critical of President Trump when I disagree on policy and with his behavior,” Feinstein’s statement said, noting that she had been “appalled” by his comments in response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Virginia and by his pardon of controversial former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. “The duty of the American president is to bring people together, not cater to one segment of a political base; to solve problems, not campaign constantly. While I’m under no illusion that it’s likely to happen and will continue to oppose his policies, I want President Trump to change for the good of the country.”
In left-leaning San Francisco, the crowd gathered to hear Feinstein on Tuesday responded to her remark mostly silently, the Chronicle report said, with a handful of hisses, “no’s” and laughter mixed in. At a time when many in the Democratic Party have talked hopefully of impeaching Trump, Feinstein told the audience that it should be prepared for the president to serve out his full four-year term.
She said the route to an improved presidency for Trump would require a personality shift on his part. If he’s unable, she said, “there are things that can be done.”
“We’ll have to see if he can forget himself enough and have the type of empathy and direction the country needs,” she said.
Feinstein’s comments came during a “conversation” with former Rep. Ellen Tauscher at Herbst Theater in San Francisco.