WASHINGTON (TND) — A senator speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle that they felt California Senator Dianne Feinstein, 88, could be losing her mental acuity, and thought she may need to resign before the end of her term in 2024.
Four U.S. senators, three of whom are Democrats, in addition to three former Feinstein staffers, have all indicated to the outlet that Feinstein’s memory is going downhill – and quickly. They said there are days when she seems to not even fully recognize some of her longtime colleagues she has worked with throughout her years in the Senate. They reportedly said Feinstein cannot even fulfill her regular job duties without her staff members doing all the work for her.
“There’s a joke on the Hill, we’ve got a great junior senator in Alex Padilla and an experienced staff in Feinstein’s office,” one Feinstein staffer said, according to the Chronicle.
However, the Chronicle’s sources did say the lapses were not constant, and some days she is as sharp as she used to be.
One lawmaker relayed to the Chronicle that during a policy discussion with the long-time California senator it became apparent she was having memory problems.
During the talk that lasted several hours, which the anonymous lawmaker expected to go much differently based on previous discussions, they had to reintroduce themselves to Feinstein multiple times, according to the Chronicle.
The lawmaker also said that Feinstein repeated the same simpleminded questions over and over again, such as asking them what was important to voters in their district, whilst failing to recall the two already had similar discussions on that previously.
Following the discussion, the anonymous lawmaker reportedly began raising concerns to their congressional colleagues to gauge whether some kind of intervention to convince Feinstein to retire was possible.
“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,” the lawmaker told the Chronicle. “All of that is gone. 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.”
Feinstein has appeared composed during congressional hearings, such as the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, however she frequently appeared to read prepared questions, and rarely deviated from them.
Feinstein was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, and beats out Iowa’s Sen. Chuck Grassley by a few months as the oldest sitting member in the legislative body.
If Feinstein were to retire, Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsome would be responsible for selecting someone to fill her seat through the remainder of the term.
Feinstein told Newsweek that while she has focused much of the past year on her husband, who passed in February, she has remained committed to her role and said she’d “put [her] record up against anyone’s.”
"The real question is whether I'm still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am," she said.