Colleagues and former staffers of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein expressed concerns about recent interactions in interviews with the San Francisco Chronicle.
One unnamed California lawmaker recently had an extended discussion with Feinstein. But instead of a rigorous policy discussion like they have had over the last 15 years, the lawmaker said they had to reintroduce themselves to Feinstein multiple times in a meeting that lasted for hours.
Instead of discussing policy, the lawmaker said, the 88-year-old senator repeated the same small-talk questions with “no apparent recognition the two had already had a similar conversation,” according to the report.
The lawmaker began to raise concerns to colleagues to see whether it was possible to intervene and convince Feinstein to retire.
“I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone,” the lawmaker said. “She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that.”
The Chronicle spoke with four of Feinstein’s Senate colleagues, including three Democrats, and three of her former aides.
All of them said that Feinstein’s memory is “rapidly deteriorating,” according to the report, and don’t believe she can continue to do her job.
They said the memory lapses are not constant but she sometimes “does not seem to fully recognize even her longtime colleagues.”
Feinstein pushed back on the report.
“The last year has been extremely painful and distracting for me, flying back and forth to visit my dying husband who passed just a few weeks ago,” she said. “But there’s no question I’m still serving and delivering for the people of California, and I’ll put my record up against anyone’s.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also defended Feinstein.
“Senator Feinstein is a workhorse for the people of California and a respected leader among her colleagues in the Senate,” Pelosi said. “She is constantly traveling between California and the Capitol, working relentlessly to ensure Californians’ needs are met and voices are heard.”