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August 2017 Essential Politics archives

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California Democrats

California Senate leader Kevin de León fires back at Sen. Dianne Feinstein's call for 'patience' with Trump

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is seen at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is seen at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

The leader of California's state Senate on Wednesday sharply criticized a call from Sen. Dianne Feinstein for "patience" with President Trump, suggesting it was tantamount to being "complicit" in his behavior.

The comments by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) offer a glimpse into the vastly different approaches by two leading California Democrats to Trump's first few months in office.

"It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable — especially Democrats, not be complicit in his reckless behavior," de León said in a written statement, first reported by San Francisco's KQED public radio.

Feinstein, who spoke Tuesday night at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, was booed by the crowd after saying she still thinks he can be a "good president." She went on to suggest a pause before passing judgment in the wake of how Trump will have to handle Hurricane Harvey

“This is his first big American emergency. I think we have to have some patience. I do," she said.

The reply from de León, who is termed out of office next year and is rumored as a future candidate for governor or U.S. Senate, raised a litany of issues on which Democrats disagree with the president, including the environment and the possible deportation of young immigrants without legal residency status.

State Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) (David Butow / For The Times)
State Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) (David Butow / For The Times)

"I don't think children who breathe dirty air can afford patience," he said. "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."

De León also said that "this president has not shown any capacity to learn and proven he is not fit for office."

After news reports of her comments at the event, Feinstein issued a statement Wednesday seeking to clarify her stance.

"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," Feinstein said. "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."

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