The editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday called on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to resign, arguing that her reporting shows she is mentally unfit to take on the job.
The editorial was published following a newspaper article that raised concerns about Feinstein’s mental health and memory abilities from three of his former staffers and four current US senators, including three democrats.
The Chronicle’s editorial board cited an example from the report in which an unnamed Democratic congressman from California had to introduce himself multiple times to Feinstein, 88, despite having worked with the senator for more than a decade.
“It remains impossible not to be troubled,” reads the editorial. “If Feinstein’s mental shape has indeed deteriorated to the point that it’s an open secret that she’s unable to do her job, Democrats need to drop the jokes and come clean.”
Feinstein defended herself in a statement Friday, saying the recent mistakes were the result of grief over the death of her husband, Richard Blum, in February.
She also maintained that “the real question is whether I am still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am.”
“I remain committed to doing what I said when I was re-elected in 2018: fight for Californians, including on the economy and the key California issues of water and fire,” said the senator. “Although I have focused for much of the past year on the health and passing of my husband, I have remained determined to achieve results and would pit my record against anyone’s.”
But questions about Feinstein’s mental fitness have been raised before, including in a December 2020 New Yorker article. Staff members who spoke to the magazine said “Feinstein’s short-term memory has become so poor that she often forgets she was briefed on a subject.”
Feinstein sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee and could be third for president if Democrats retain control of the Senate midterm. She is set to replace incumbent Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as acting Senate President.
The senator, who is up for re-election in 2024, told the Chronicle she does not plan to step down before the election. Feinstein has filed documents with the Federal Election Commission that allow her to potentially run in 2024, but she has not announced whether she will officially seek another term.
Feinstein served as mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988 before being elected to the Senate in 1992. During her years of service, she worked on conservation efforts and led efforts to pass landmark laws, including the federal ban on assault weapons in 1994.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) defended her colleague from San Francisco on Thursday, saying the senator was “a workhorse for the people of California and a respected leader among her Senate colleagues” and that the charges of mental unfitness of Feinstein were “ridiculous”. .”
“It is unconscionable that, just weeks after losing her beloved husband of more than four decades and after decades of outstanding leadership for our city and state, she is being subjected to these ridiculous attacks that are below the mark. dignity in which she led and the esteem in which she is held,” Pelosi said in a statement to multiple news outlets, including the Chronicle.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) also defended Feinstein.
Khanna said the allegations were “ageist and cruel”, while Padilla told the Chronicle “she still does the job and does it well”.
The Chronicle’s editorial board said Feinstein still had “moments of clarity” and that his years of public service should be respected.
“Feinstein deserves to end his career with dignity on his own terms. But denial is a hallmark of those who suffer from memory loss and co-occurring illnesses,” the editors wrote. “And if indeed the situation is so dire, then this is no time for ceremonial courtesy.”