Dianne Feinstein loses her memory, say concerned Senate sources

Colleagues fear Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who turns 89 in June, may no longer be fit to serve, according to a new report from the San Francisco Chronicle.

the the Chronicle spoke to four U.S. senators, including three Democrats, three former Feinstein staffers, and a California Democrat in Congress, about how the longtime senator loses her memory, often doesn’t recognize her colleagues, and she is no longer able to engage in work as she used to.

The California Democrat recounted a recent exchange in which they had to introduce themselves to Feinstein several times during the same conversation, and that Feinstein kept repeating questions, such as asking what mattered most to voters in the district of the legislator. “I’ve worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in charge, always in charge, above the details, I almost couldn’t resist a conversation where she was leading an invoice or an idea. All of that has disappeared,” they said. “She was an intellectual and political force not so long ago, and that’s why my meeting with her was so shocking. Because there was no trace of it.

“It’s bad and it’s getting worse,” added a Democratic senator, noting that Feinstein had trouble keeping conversations going.

A California Democrat’s staffer said there was a joke on Capitol Hill that Democrats had “a great junior senator in Alex Padilla and a seasoned staff in Feinstein’s office.”

Senator Padilla was one of a handful of Democrats who championed Feinstein’s cognitive abilities in the Chronicle. So did Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi said it was “unconscionable that, just weeks after losing her beloved husband of more than four decades and after decades of outstanding leadership in our city and our state, she is being subjected to these ridiculous attacks that are below the dignity in which she led and the esteem in which she is held.

the the Chronicle notes that her sources’ comments about Feinstein’s declining mental acuity occurred before her husband’s death in late February. Feinstein said in a statement to the Chronicle on March 28 that “the past year has been extremely painful and distracting for me, traveling back and forth to visit my dying husband who passed away just weeks ago.”

Feinstein has her defenders, but even those who question her fitness to serve have acknowledged that it is difficult to do so because of the immense respect they have for her and what she has accomplished over the years. decades she served in Congress. Ryan Grim of The Intercept spoke to a Democratic staffer who was a bit more direct in his assessment of the situation. “Feinstein’s decline is an open secret on the Hill and anyone who claims otherwise is a liar,” the staffer said.

This is not the first time concerns have been raised about Feinstein’s ability to do his job. The Chronicle says that in 2020, it was possible she could lead the Senate Judiciary Committee if Biden won and Democrats controlled the Senate (Senator Dick Durbin is the current chairman). She say it Los Angeles Times at the time that she did not believe that her cognitive abilities had diminished, but that she had “very likely” forgotten things.

Feinstein would be third in line for the presidency if Democrats retained control of the Senate in November, as the retirement of Sen. Patrick Leahy would make his Senate pro tempore. The only way Feinstein could be removed from office is by retirement or a two-thirds vote in the Senate. His term ends in 2024.