Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California admitted to not recognizing a fellow member of Congress at a recent event but denied that she was suffering from memory loss, she told editors from The San Francisco Chronicle.
An earlier Thursday report by The Chronicle cited four unnamed US senators as saying that Feinstein’s memory was quickly deteriorating. Feinstein responded in a subsequent editorial that any lapses in memory stemmed from stress after her husband’s recent death.
“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,” the senator told The Chronicle. “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.”
A colleague who spoke with The Chronicle on the condition of anonymity said that Feinstein, the oldest sitting member of the US Senate, did not recognize them at a recent event, and that they considered staging an intervention with the senator.
Two senators also told The Chronicle that Feinstein had trouble remembering their names in front of them.
The Chronicle’s report renewed long-held concerns about the 88-year-old California senator’s mental fitness, which largely came after a December 2020 report from The New Yorker that included anonymous comments about her age and memory.
In The Chronicle’s editorial, members of the editorial board wrote that Feinstein “came off as diminished but lucid and responsive.”
According to the editorial, she told the board she was “puzzled” by the report but admitted that she didn’t recognize a colleague at one point. She said that she was at the time mourning the loss of her husband, Richard Blum, who died in February.
“I’ve had a rough year,” she told the editorial board. “A cancer death doesn’t come fast. And this is the second husband I’ve lost to cancer.”
Feinstein has held office as a senator since 1992 and has not announced whether she would run again in 2024.
The office of House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Feinstein and downplayed concerns to The Chronicle, calling her a “workhorse for the people of California and a respected leader among her colleagues in the Senate.”
Feinstein also defended her own record in a new statement to The Chronicle on Thursday.
“While I have focused for much of the past year on my husband’s health and ultimate passing, I have remained committed to achieving results and I’d put my record up against anyone’s,” she said, citing policies and bills she had worked on in recent months.
“The real question is whether I’m still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am.”
This report was published on Insider.