California Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended herself against her Democratic colleagues and said she has no plans to step down following a report that claimed the 88-year-old’s memory has rapidly deteriorated and that she is mentally unfit to continue representing her state.
“I meet regularly with leaders,” a shocked Feinstein (D-Calif.) told San Francisco Chronicle editorial board leaders on Thursday, hours after the paper first published the bombshell report on her current mental condition.
“I’m not isolated. I see people. My attendance is good. I put in the hours. We represent a huge state. And so I’m rather puzzled by all of this.”
According to the Chronicle’s report, a Democratic senator from the state said that her mental state is “bad, and it’s getting worse.” The report also claimed that a member of California’s congressional delegation who has known Feinstein for 15 years recently had to repeatedly reintroduce themselves during an hours-long discussion.
In total, the report cited four of Feinstein’s Senate colleagues, three former staffers and a House member who expressed concern that the elderly senator’s memory has slipped significantly, forcing her to leave much of her work to her staff.
According to The Chronicle, Feinstein had declined to be interviewed for the story, but later told the editorial board that no one has raised concerns about her mental capacity to her directly.
“No, that conversation has not happened,” Feinstein said. “The real conversation is whether I’m an effective representative for 40 million people.”
Feinstein, who was first elected to her senate seat 30 years ago in 1992, has been a prominent force in Washington. She chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee for six years and served as a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Trump administration.
Two senators told The Chronicle that they believe Feinstein recognizes them but she is not able to recall their names or home states. Sources said she has good days as well as bad days, and occasionally appears like her old self.
The senator defended her performance in a statement shared with The Chronicle as well as The Post, saying it has been a rough few weeks since her husband, Richard Blum, passed away Feb. 27 at the age of 86 following a battle with cancer.
“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. 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, 82, was one of several members of congress who defended Feinstein following the report and claimed she had not noticed any cognitive decline in her fellow Californian.
Feinstein’s Senate colleague Alex Padilla told the paper he was familiar with the concerns about her health, but said that “as someone who sees her multiple times a week, including on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I can tell you she’s still doing the job and doing it’s okay.”