Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) seemed confused about her own past statements in an interview about her future on Tuesday.
The 89-year-old Feinstein was the prime candidate to become President Pro Tempore of the Senate, third in the line of succession to the presidency after the vice president and speaker of the house. But Feinstein already stated publicly that she will not seek the position. She seemed to forget that in an interview with Insider Magazine, and had to be reminded of the statement by a staffer.
“Well, I haven’t thought about it, but I’ll let you know when I do,” Feinstein told Insider’s Bryan Metzger. “I just got back, I’ve had a lot of issues.”
“[She has] told a few reporters in the past that she’s not thought about it, and has no intention of seeking the position,” one of Feinstein’s aides cut in, before turning to the Senator. “That’s what you’ve told reporters,” the aide said.
“I don’t know what you’re saying,” Feinstein told the staffer.
“This is about the Senate pro tem position,” he replied.
“Well, I haven’t said anything about it, that I know of,” she insisted.
“You were asked about it over the break, and you put out a statement saying that you had no intention of running for it,” he reminded her.
“Okay, well then, I guess it’s out,” she concluded.
Feinstein told The Washington Post in October that she was not seeking the position. “I’ve never thought about being the president pro tempore and I have no interest in it at this time,” she said in a statement to the paper. Feinstein also lost her husband, private equity investor and former University of California regent Richard Blum, in February. Feinstein cited her husband’s death as the reason she did not want to accept the job.
Rumors have been swirling since earlier this year about Feinstein’s mental fitness to serve in office. A Congressional Democrat told the San Francisco Chronicle in April that Feinstein repeatedly engaged in similar lines of small talk, and the lawmaker had to reintroduce himself several times. Multiple senators, staffers, and the member of Congress said that Feinstein’s memory was rapidly deteriorating, and that she needed her staff to do much of the work.
In her interview with Insider, Feinstein refused to answer whether she was fit to serve as president pro tempore. “I’m just saying I haven’t thought about it,” she said.
If Feinstein keeps her word and does not seek the position, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) would most likely accept the post. Murray was elected in 1992, the same year as Feinstein.
Meanwhile on the Republican side, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) announced his intention to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for leadership of the Republican conference. “Republican voters expect and deserve to know our plan to promote and advance conservative values,” Scott said in a note to colleagues obtained by The Daily Wire. “We need to listen to their calls for action and start governing in Washington like we campaign back at home.
“They are begging us to tell them what we will do when we are in charge. Unfortunately, we have continued to elect leadership who refuses to do that and elicits attacks on anyone that does. That is clearly not working and it’s time for bold change. The voters are demanding it,” he added.