Feinstein puzzles, claims “I haven’t been gone” during months-long absence

Concerns about the 89-year-old senator’s mental acuity have grown amid confusing answers during an interview earlier this week.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein seems to not remember that she was away from Congress for months due to a bout with shingles. 

The 89-year-old longtime senator made curious comments to reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. 


The backstory: Feinstein returned to work at the Capitol last week after being away since February receiving treatment for shingles. 

  • During her absence, fellow Democrats called for her to step down since the Senate could not approve judicial nominees without her vote. 
  • Feinstein previously announced her upcoming retirement from the Senate when her term ends next year, wrapping up a career in the upper chamber that started in 1992. 

Driving the news: Feinstein voted on the Senate floor this week, and on Tuesday she needed assistance from a male staffer to walk to the floor. 

  • Shortly after voting she was spotted in a wheelchair and told reporters that she has a problem with her leg, declining to expand on what the specific issue is. 

What she said: According to a report from Slate, a reporter asked Feinstein what the response has been from her colleagues since she has returned to work. 

  • “No, I haven’t been gone,” Feinstein said. She added, “I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.” 
  • Reporters asked if she meant that she had been working from home. Her response: “No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting. Please. You either know or don’t know.” 
  • Before last week Feinstein had not voted in the Senate since February.
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