Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said today that she was wrong to suggest that the White House purposely leaked classified intelligence to bolster President Obama’s national security image.
In a statement, Feinstein tried to clarify what she meant when she said Monday that “the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.”
“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.”
Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney pounced on Feinstein’s original remarks during his speech today at the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference in Reno, Nevada.
“Yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” Romney said. “This conduct is contemptible. 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. Obama appointees, who are accountable to President Obama’s Attorney General, should not be responsible for investigating the leaks coming from the Obama White House.”
Feinstein said she was angered by Romney’s decision to use her to attack Obama.
“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,” she added.
Immediately after Feinstein’s statement was released, Republicans surmised that the White House and the Obama campaign had pressured her in private to backtrack.
“It looks like President Obama has given Dianne Feinstein the Cory Booker treatment,” said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams, a reference to the Democratic mayor of Newark, N.J. who reversed himself after saying he was “nauseated” by Obama’s attacks against Romney’s record at Bain Capital.
“Yesterday she was speaking candidly about the leaks originating from this White House,” Williams added. “Today, she was forced to walk it back.”