Feinstein hits Romney for using her comments in speech
July 24th, 2012
03:23 PM ET
6 years ago

Feinstein hits Romney for using her comments in speech

(CNN) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, on Tuesday walked back recent comments accusing the White House of leaking national security information and blasted Mitt Romney for using her remarks in a speech on foreign policy.

"I am disappointed by the statements made by Mr. Romney today regarding a question I was asked yesterday at the World Affairs Council," Feinstein said in a statement.

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Feinstein added she did not believe the leaks came from the president but stated she "shouldn't have speculated beyond."

On Monday, Feinstein said during a question and answer session at a World Affairs Council forum that "the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks. I don't know specifically where, but they have to begin to understand that, and do something about it."

Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has used tough language in the past regarding the leaks but has declined to join the Republican call for a special independent investigation.

In June, the Department of Justice announced it was appointing two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks, which included classified information published in the New York Times in June regarding what was described as a U.S. cyberattack targeting Iran's nuclear centrifuge program.

Other recent possible leaks of classified information included details on the administration's efforts to expand its drone program and Obama's involvement in "kill lists" against militants in Yemen and Pakistan.

The public airing of details surrounding a recently disrupted bomb plot in Yemen by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula also angered intelligence and national security officials.

On Monday, Feinstein was clear she didn't think Obama or his top aides were responsible for releasing the classified information. She did say, however, that Obama needed to set a tone in his administration that leaks would not be tolerated.

"I don't believe for a moment [Obama] goes out and talks about it," Feinstein said of secret intelligence information. "I don't believe the briefers go out and talk about it. But who knows who else. And I think that the importance of this has to be really set by the president himself, and hopefully he will do it."

Seizing on her remarks, Romney cited Feinstein in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention on Tuesday.

"This conduct is contemptible," Romney said of the leaks. "It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence."

Feinstein, however, in a statement released shortly after his speech, said she regretted her choice of words the day prior and disputed Romney's decision to reference her comments in his VFW remarks.

"I was asked whether the White House might be responsible for recent national security leaks. I stated that I did not believe the president leaked classified information. I shouldn't have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don't know the source of the leaks," she said.

She continued: "I'm on record as being disturbed by these leaks, and I regret my remarks are being used to impugn President Obama or his commitment to protecting national security secrets. I know for a fact the president is extremely troubled by these leaks. His administration has moved aggressively to appoint two independent U.S. attorneys. There is an investigation under way, and it is moving forward quickly.

"I know we are in a campaign season, but I hope the investigation proceeds without political accusation or interference from anyone."

Later in a separate statement, Romney's campaign argued Feinstein had been pressured to amend her comments.

"It looks like President Obama has given Dianne Feinstein the Cory Booker treatment. Yesterday she was speaking candidly about the leaks originating from this White House. Today, she was forced to walk it back," said Ryan Williams, Romney campaign spokesman.

- CNN's Dana Bash, Shawna Shepherd, Kevin Liptak, and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Dianne Feinstein • Mitt Romney • Nevada • White House
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. rla

    Yes a truthful answer should never be used in DC

    July 24, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Woman In California

    We all know by now that he loves to hide behind the skirts of women – don't we? Remember the low-class, unnecessary remark about Teresa Heinz-Kerry? Next subject, Michelle Obama. In fact, Willard would hide behind a little girl if he had to. I have come to expect nothing more from this poor excuse of a man who will once again be told he is NOT the better choice.
    Obama 2012

    July 24, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. FORWARD into the Obama FISCAL ABYSS

    Yeah, it really does stink that your own truthful words are used against your own lying, dishonest covering up candidate. boo hoo hoo... Not really sure what you are upset about though as what you said has already been sad by many others. The fact that some in the Obama Whitehouse are leaking top secret information in order to make the President look tough is public knowledge at this point.

    But I'm sure those crack self-appointed investigators will dig deeply and absolve all of any wrongdoing well after the election. The Obama adminstration of lies and coverup has perfected this. The whole transpency thing seems to only apply to our top secret information.

    July 24, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. Toby McDooogan

    Now that she realizes that she is a politician, she wants to say don't use my words to hurt Ol' Big Ears.

    July 24, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Cali Kool Aid

    Typical lib, it's ok for me to say it, but it's not ok for you to repeat what I said. More of the do as I say not as I do mentality

    July 24, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Al-NY,NY

    you said it Diane. Now you have to make sure Flip uses it correctly. Hold him accountable

    July 24, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. rob

    "Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, on Tuesday walked back recent comments accusing the White House of leaking national security information...." LOL...she got the call from the Chicago muscle man Axelrod.

    Her comments were on the money and Romney is not accusing the President either but those leaks were definately from an insider at the White House and they are troubling enough that a bipartisan chorus has been condemming them and Holder was forced to immediately start an investigation. But thanks to CNN we get to hear the Senators "walk back" statement and her rebuttal to Romney. Its got to be very difficult to be in a liberal media news room these days. The editorial meetings about how to cover for this Admin must twist them into pretzels Ha. Its going to be a long election season for them.

    July 24, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Reggiedw

    Well if she did not mean the words why did she say them? I suppose she is in some hot water now with the administration and she is trying to back track on her comments. Nobody can dare criticize Obama and his administration because they are too perfect and I suppose you will get black listed. It seems that you cannot express an opinion without getting in trouble with Obama and his croonies. What about the term "freedon of speech" does that no longer apply in America anymore?

    July 24, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. rrd

    another Democrat Obama took to wood shed.

    July 24, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. PaulCat

    Why were you disappointed Sen. Feinstein? You should know by now that the only way Romney can get attention is by taking things out of context. You also should have known that no matter what, his GOP friends will believe him.

    July 24, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  11. Montykoolaid

    What what?

    Romney is taking something someone said and slicing and dicing it, then presenting it out of context in the hopes that Americans are stupid and will buy it? No! The funny thing is...

    Romneys own words have been his own enemy throughout this entire circus of a GOP campaign.

    "I was not responsible for what happened at Bain Capital after I left" – Mitt Romney
    "I was the sole shareholder, sole Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bain until I resigned retroactively [huh?] in 2001" – Mitt Romney

    "The Arizona immigration policy is a good model" – Mitt Romney
    "I didn't really support the Arizona immigration policy" – Mitt Romney

    “The Massachusetts healthcare plan should be a model for the nation” – Mitt Romney
    “Healthcare reform should be left to the states” – Mitt Romney

    "Let Detroit go bankrupt" -Mitt Romney
    "I'll take a lot of credit for saving the auto industry" -Mitt Romney

    “I believe Roe v Wade has gone too far.” – Mitt Romney
    “Roe v Wade has been the law for 20 years ... we should sustain and support it.” – Mitt Romney

    “I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose.” – Mitt Romney
    “I never really called myself pro-choice.” – Mitt Romney

    “It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam.” – Mitt Romney
    “I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and represent our country there.” – Mitt Romney

    “I’m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.” – Mitt Romney
    “Ronald Reagan is … my hero.” – Mitt Romney

    “I think the minimum wage ought to keep pace with inflation.” – Mitt Romney
    "There’s no question raising the minimum wage excessively causes a loss of jobs.” – Mitt Romney

    “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.” – Mitt Romney
    “I did not see it with my own eyes.” – Mitt Romney

    “I would like to have campaign spending limits.” – Mitt Romney
    “The American people should be free to advocate for their candidates without burdensome limitations.” – Mitt Romney

    “I supported the assault weapon ban.” – Mitt Romney
    "I don’t support any gun control legislation.” – Mitt Romney

    July 24, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. n

    Ladies and gentlemen, again, I give you Romney, the weasel! What more do you need to convince you that he, if elected president (God forbid), will destroy this country?

    July 24, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. sonny chapman

    Karl Rove is running his campaign;WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ?

    July 24, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. RightyTighty

    So if a democrat criticizes the president or his administration the republicans are not allowed to repeat it? The left has a remarkable way of thinking.

    July 24, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  15. Ray

    Mitt Romney was caught in a decades-long lie about his active draft avoidance during the Vietnam War.

    Selective Service records show that Mitt Romney had four draft deferments (between academic deferments and his work with the Mormon church). That's one less deferment than Dick Cheney got.

    Interestingly, Mitt Romney was avoiding the draft while demonstrating in favor of it at Stanford.

    July 24, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Whatwhat

    Oh...I didn't mean to point my finger at Dear Leader. Sorry...mean old Romney!

    July 24, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. Arun

    Don't worry Diane, Mitt doesn't have any ideas of his own on how to run this country. Therefore he needs to keep attacking and making things up. To bad some American's feel he is the right person for the job of POTUS!! The man only believes in reducing big government by cutting anything his party is against and reducing taxes for the rich and corporate america.

    July 24, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. Lar 5

    Romney supports voter ID laws.Or, "How To Steal an Election"
    .I worry more about this than this national security issue. Why waste words. These voter ID laws are intended to prevent the the re-election of the first black president in U.S. history. If Obama was a white man this issue would not being discussed Any other reasons given are pure baloney!

    July 24, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Feinstein: "Leaks are serious and shoudl be taken seriously and I hope OBama's administratino does so."

    Mittens: "Feinstein, a fellow Dem, also believes that Obama is leaking these things for political advantage."

    If you can't see the disconnect and misrepresentation being made by Mittens here, then you're a freekin moron. Nuance...get some.

    July 24, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. Steve

    Diane, if you don't mean it, don't say it.
    Obama is the better candidate between he and Romney, but Romney will be the better President!!!!

    July 24, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "I didn't mean to point my finger at Dear Leader."

    And she didn't. Not in any way, shape or form. THAT is where Mittens has gone a bridge too far in misrepresenting what she said. "You people" need to grow the frig up and stop pretending it's all just fun and games to take things out of context and completely lie about what people have said.

    July 24, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  22. FORWARD into the Obama FISCAL ABYSS

    I'm beginning to get the distinct feeling that there are a LOT of Democrats that would love to get rid of Obama as well. Think about how many of them have come out and said things that have worked against Obama. The list is large and grows every day. There are far too many for this to be simple mistakes.

    Romney should open up an active campaign and target Hillary Democrats to get their vote. They never wanted to vote for Obama in the first place and have been kicking themselves for voting for Obama. There are a LOT of potential Democrat votes for Romney. GO FOR THEM!!

    July 24, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. The Voice of Reason

    Reminiscent of the "hostage video" of Cory Booker.

    July 24, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  24. Dave

    The liberals seem to forget Obama's lies and inconsistencies: He has ficticious characters in his book. He has not reduced the deficits, debt or unemployment. He was against executive privilege. He was against the health care mandate. He was against the intelligence process that led to Bin Laden's death. He said Bush was unpatriotic for increasing debt. Etc.

    July 24, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. Harkers

    The people of the enonomy of stupid can whine, cry, blame bush, ask for more tax records for their assault on success, But eventually what they can't do is fix Obama's failed economy And thats what it will come down to in Nov.

    July 24, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
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