Feinstein won’t commit to finishing her term following mental decline allegations
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) refused to answer questions on Friday concerning her alleged mental decline. This comes after she defended herself over a hit piece by The New Yorker written by Jane Mayer that was published stating that she was “seriously struggling” with cognitive decline. She also would not commit to serving out her term.
Feinstein, a former mayor of San Francisco, was elected in 1992 as one of California’s first two female U.S. senators. She served with former Sen. Barbara Boxer until Sen. Kamala Harris succeeded Boxer in 2017.
Feinstein is the oldest member of the Senate at 87. She is now facing growing questions that the media is labeling as ‘painful’ about her performance amid an onslaught of criticism over how she handled the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
One of the primary sore spots with the media and Democrats was that she dared to hug Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. She praised him for “one of the best set of hearings that I have participated in.”
The senior legislator was asked by CNN in a congressional hallway if she would stay until her six-year term ends in 2024. Feinstein vaguely stated: “Well, if it changes, I’ll let you know.”
When Feinstein was asked if she still felt like carrying out her duties, she said, “I do — I work hard. I have good staff. I think I am productive. And I represent the people of California as well as I possibly can.”
The senator’s comments were aired after The New Yorker, in a report published on Thursday, said Feinstein often becomes confused in meetings and forgets being briefed on a topic, “accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have.”
“The staff is in such a bad position,” one former Senate aide told the publication. “They have to defend her and make her seem normal.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is said to have asked Feinstein to step down a couple of times after having several “painful” discussions with Feinstein. She allegedly quickly forgets her conversations with Schumer, forcing him to confront her again.
“It was like ‘Groundhog Day,’ but with the pain fresh each time,” a source said.
Schumer is receiving his share of the blame for allowing Feinstein to run for re-election in 2018, with her current term due to end when she will be 91 years old.
Whispers and rumors allegedly first started swirling about Feinstein’s condition during the confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. But they solidified when Barrett came up for confirmation to the High Court. This was followed by Feinstein’s decision to step down last month as a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.
Schumer was reportedly so concerned about Feinstein’s performance during the Barrett proceedings that he “installed a trusted former aide, Max Young, to ’embed’ in the Judiciary Committee to make sure the hearings didn’t go off the rails,” The New Yorker reported.
When asked by CNN if she thought the report was fair, the California lawmaker responded: “No, not particularly. No one talked to me.”
Now, a number of prominent leftist commentators are calling for the senior senator’s resignation.
“This is a sad read, but Feinstein needs to graciously retire for the sake of the country,” tweeted New York Times opinion writer Wajahat Ali.
— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) December 10, 2020
“Feinstein is too conservative to rep California, she chastised activist kids for wanting to save the planet, she botched the ACB hearing and now there’s this,” wrote progressive Adam Best. “CA has a deep bench of awesome Dems (Porter, Bass, Khanna, Lee, etc.) who are ready to step up. Time for her to retire.”
Feinstein is too conservative to rep California, she chastised activist kids for wanting to save the planet, she botched the ACB hearing and now there’s this. CA has a deep bench of awesome Dems (Porter, Bass, Khanna, Lee, etc.) who are ready to step up. Time for her to retire. https://t.co/zY6C1NZP0E
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) December 10, 2020
“It’s time for Sen. Feinstein to retire,” wrote UC Irvine law professor and CNN contributor Rick Hasen. “She did some great work in Senate. But it’s been clear for last few years that her cognitive decline is serious. Let Gov. Newsom appoint someone who can fully represent CA’s interests until election.”
Crucial reporting from @JaneMayerNYer.
It's time for Sen. Feinstein to retire. She did some great work in Senate. But it's been clear for last few years that her cognitive decline is serious.
Let Gov. Newsom appoint someone who can fully represent CA's interests until election. https://t.co/z0akATcA2j
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) December 10, 2020
If Feinstein retires now or anytime prior to the 2022 midterms, it would set off a series of political events. Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint someone to sit in her seat until a special election in 2022, which would give Newsom two U.S. Senate appointments, including the one for Kamala Harris while forcing two United States Senate elections onto the ballot in 2022. In addition to the two Senate races, Newsom himself is up for re-election in 2022.