Capitol Alert

Dianne Feinstein thinks Trump ‘can be a good president,’ angering a top Democrat

While much of California’s Democratic establishment is resisting Donald Trump at every turn, the state’s senior U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is urging “patience.”

“I think we have to have some patience. I do,” Feinstein, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, told ex-Rep. Ellen Tauscher late Tuesday at a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco. “It’s eight months into the tenure of the presidency … We’ll have to see if he can forget himself and his feeling about himself enough to be able to really have the kind of empathy and the kind of direction that this country needs.”

“The question is whether he can learn and change,” she added. “If so, I believe he can be a good president.”

The remarks didn’t sit well with one of California’s chief resistors, state Senate leader Kevin de León, a fellow Democrat.

In a prepared statement, de León seized on Feinstein’s call to give Trump more time.

“I don't think children who breathe dirty air can afford patience. The LGBT worker or woman losing their rights by the day or the black student who could be assaulted on the street – they can't afford patience. DREAMers who are unsure of their fate in this country can't afford patience. Even a Trump voter who is still out of work can't afford to be patient.

“We don't have much patience for Donald Trump here in California,” de León added in the statement, which was first picked up by KQED, drawing an even sharper contrast with an elected official who spends much of her time in Washington. “This President has not shown any capacity to learn and proven he is not fit for office. It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable – especially Democrats – not be complicit in his reckless behavior.”

Feinstein is up for relection next year, but declined to discuss her own plans at the same event in San Francisco. De León, who must step down next year because of term limits, has said he is considering a variety of options for his next move.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago