Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) memory is reportedly slipping, with one former Senate aide calling it a “disaster.”
“The staff is in such a bad position,” a former Senate aide told The New Yorker for a Thursday profile on Feinstein. “They have to defend her and make her seem normal.”
Critics honed in on a Nov. 17 Senate hearing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in which Feinstein twice asked Dorsey the same question. Reading a tweet in which President Donald Trump claimed he had won the election, Feinstein asked about a label Twitter had applied to the tweet, “Do you believe that label goes far enough to prevent the tweet’s harms when the tweet is still visible and not accurate?”
After Dorsey had answered — and less than 90 seconds later — Feinstein read the tweet again. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that she had already asked, she said again, “Does that label do enough to prevent the tweet’s harms when the tweet is still visible and is not accurate?”
Feinstein, at 87, is the oldest member of the Senate. She was first elected to San Francisco’s city council in 1970, and to the Senate in 1992. She served for six years as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee during President Barack Obama’s administration, and is presently the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“It’s been a disaster,” said the former aide. “Other members were constantly trying to go around her because, as chair, she didn’t want to do anything, and she also didn’t want them doing anything.”
Feinstein rankled many Democrats in recent days with a public show of bipartisanship, hugging Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during committee hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and complimenting him for running “one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in.” That could account for the newfound willingness by some Democrats to take aim at Feinstein.
An aide to a different Democratic senator said, “She’s an incredibly effective human being, but there’s definitely been deterioration in the last year. She’s in a very different mode now.”
One more “Senate source” added that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tried to convince Feinstein not to run for reelection in 2018, but that “she wasn’t really all that aware of the extent to which she’d been compromised.” The source added, “It was hurtful and distressing to have it pointed out.”
Watch Feinstein’s exchange with Dorsey above, via the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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