Chuck Schumer Fans the Flames When Asked About 'Confidence' in Dianne Feinstein’s Cognitive Abilities

Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP

Rumors have been swirling since the looming September 2020 confirmation battle over Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court that Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) mental health has been steadily deteriorating, with some in the Democratic Caucus questioning her ability to continue to serve in the office she’s held since 1992.


A story filed by Politico prior to Barrett’s eventual nomination and confirmation hearings stated that “Interviews with more than a dozen Democratic senators and aides show widespread concern over whether” she was “capable of leading the aggressive effort Democrats need against whoever President Donald Trump picks to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Feinstein was the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.

The news outlet also noted that Feinstein, the oldest sitting U.S. Senator at 88-years-old, “sometimes gets confused by reporters’ questions, or will offer different answers to the same question depending on where or when she’s asked.”

More recently, the San Francisco Chronicle brought the issue to light again after reporting that “[f]our U.S. senators, including three Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein staffers and the California Democratic member of Congress [they spoke to] told The Chronicle in recent interviews that her memory is rapidly deteriorating.”

Feinstein and her office, of course, have denied the reports. Though Feinstein admitted to The Chronicle that she did forget the name of a member of Congress at a recent event, she blamed it on the February death of her husband Richard Blum, telling them she’d had a “rough year” and that he was “the second husband I’ve lost to cancer.”


Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was asked point-blank Tuesday if he’d had any other Senators privately express concerns to him about Feinstein. He said he hadn’t. But when he was questioned on if he himself was confident in her abilities, a clearly uncomfortable Schumer raised eyebrows big time with his response, in which he failed to confirm he had confidence in her ability to continue to serve Californians in the U.S. Senate.

“I’ve had a good number of discussions with Sen. Feinstein, but I’m keeping them to myself,” Schumer stated before quickly pivoting to another reporter.


That is about as much of an admission as I think we’re going to get from Schumer that the rumors about Feinstein are true, at least ahead of any possible – if ever – announcements from her office directly on the subject. I mean, he could have answered “yes” and put the issue to bed at least for the time being. But he didn’t. He’s choosing to keep his discussions with her “private” and won’t say how he feels about her cognitive abilities.


As my colleague Bonchie wrote in a prior post, while some of this is obviously genuine concern being expressed about Feinstein, some of the rumormongering is also likely due to the fact that Feinstein has fallen out of favor with the “woke” wing of the Democratic in recent years, including when she signaled in 2020 that she was against nuking the filibuster as well as when she praised and hugged Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) after the Barrett hearings. Graham is arguably third only to Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) as the most hated Republican in the Senate as far as Democrat activists are concerned.

Whatever the case may be, this is obviously a sensitive subject matter but it’s one that must be addressed by Democrats and soon if the reports are accurate. Because if there’s anything that’s been reaffirmed from President Joe Biden’s first 15 months in office, it’s that people whose cognitive abilities have declined should not be holding positions of power. There’s just too much that can go (and has gone) wrong when they do. And I sincerely mean that with all due respect.

Schumer’s answer is also another reminder to folks that sometimes it’s what they *don’t* say that speaks volumes. In this case, Schumer couldn’t have been any louder if he’d shouted through a bullhorn.


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