Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the 87-year-old California Democrat who has faced growing questions about her ability to do her job, defended her service but did not commit to serving out her full term that expires in 2025.
“Well, if it changes, I’ll let you know,” Feinstein told CNN when asked if she would commit to serving out the rest of her term.
Asked if she feels she’s still able to carry out her duties now, Feinstein 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.”
Feinstein, the oldest senator in the Senate and currently the longest-serving woman in the chamber, has faced questions about her capacity – something that came into sharp focus during the confirmation hearings of Amy Coney Barrett before the elections. During the hearings, Feinstein probed Barrett’s views but also spoke warmly about President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee – and later embraced the Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham and praised the South Carolina Republican for his handling of the hearings at the same time that Democrats contended the proceedings were a sham.
Feinstein’s handling of the hearings prompted an outcry from the left and led to stern conversations between her and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and later Feinstein said she would step aside as the top Democrat on the panel. If she had remained in her spot and Democrats retake the Senate next year, she would have been the first woman to serve as chairman of the committee. Instead, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois will assume her spot in the new Congress.
This week, a New Yorker article raised further questions about Feinstein’s ability to carry out her work, citing anonymous Democrats who contended her mental sharpness and memory has deteriorated dramatically in recent years.
Asked if she found the article fair, Feinstein said: “No, not particularly. No one talked to me.” The article noted her office declined to comment.
Still, Democrats privately raise concerns about Feinstein, a painful episode for many who revere her long service.
“It’s sad to watch,” one Democratic senator told CNN.