Feinsten Grows Testy Over Accusations of Left-Wing Pressure to Oppose Trump Nominees: 'That's Your Interpretation'

April 22, 2018

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) took exception Sunday to CBS host Margaret Brennan's question about perceived left-wing pressure in her home state to oppose President Donald Trump's nominees as she seeks re-election in November.

On "Face The Nation," Feinstein discussed her issues with supporting Gina Haspel to be the next CIA Director in place of Mike Pompeo, who has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next secretary of state.

Feinstein, as other Democrats have, said she opposed Haspel's position on enhanced interrogation but stressed she wouldn't make up her mind on Haspel until after her confirmation hearing. Brennan said it sounded like Feinstein was leaning toward a "no" even though Haspel had strong support from within the CIA.

"There are some in the intelligence community who are looking to you as a very key vote here ... There are those who are questioning whether it's possible for you personally to be supportive of her, given the pressures you are feeling from progressives back in your home state of California right now, that you just can't afford to support any Trump nominee," Brennan said. "Can you explain how you're weighing those things?"

"That isn't correct," Feinstein said. "Obviously that's your interpretation of it, and you're welcome to that interpretation."

Brennan responded that wasn't her own interpretation.

"I care about who is head of the CIA, and I'm going to do my due diligence, have a chance to ask her questions in the public arena, and will do just that, and then will make up my mind whether I believe she's an appropriate person to head this agency," Feinstein said.

Feinstein has angered progressives in the party with her stances on national security issues, in addition to a badly received remark last year that Trump deserved "patience."

She failed to get the state Democratic party's endorsement in February, an unusual rebuke for a sitting senator, and her progressive opponent State Sen. Kevin de León also recently earned the endorsement of left-wing billionaire Tom Steyer.

Nevertheless, Feinstein remains in a dominant position to clinch the Democratic nomination. She is seeking her fifth full term.