U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., stunned a San Francisco audience Tuesday when she said that if President Trump "can learn and change," he could “be a good president.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Feinstein made the comments during a sold-out Herbst Theater interview. She was onstage with Ellen Tauscher, a former Bay Area congresswoman.
The paper described the event as a “political lovefest” — pointing out that Feinstein is wildly popular in San Francisco, where she served as mayor for a decade. She was first elected to the Senate in 1992, after a failed bid for governor of California.
Toward the end of the evening, Feinstein reportedly shocked the crowd when she declined to say that Trump should be impeached and then told the audience that they should be prepared to see Trump complete his four-year term.
Feinstein serves on both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, both of which are investigating Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“The question is whether he can learn and change. If so, I believe he can be a good president,” she said.
"The question is whether he can learn and change. If so, I believe he can be a good president.”
The report said, “the crowd reacted with stunned silence, broken only with scattered “No’s and a few hisses and some nervous laughter.” The article said that kind of talk is “never heard in Democratic circles.”
Feinstein has been a tough critic of Trump. She recently slammed his decision to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, saying Trump's action shows a “flagrant disregard for the rule of law in this country.”
She asserted that the pardon sent a message to police departments across the United States “that racial profiling is OK.”
On the topic of a border wall with Mexico, Feinstein said she believes Americans would rather send aid to Texas flood victims than pay for a border wall.
She has also criticized Trump’s transgender military ban and called the nature of Trump’s immigration policies “cruel and arbitrary.”
The conversation touched on many subjects, but the 84-year-old did not say whether she’ll seek re-election next year.
Still, Feinstein stood by her comments about Trump, saying, “We have to see if he can forget himself enough and have the type of empathy and direction the country needs.”
She said if he doesn't, "there are things that can be done."
The Associated Press contributed to this report