'I haven't been gone' Dianne Feinstein's comments raise more health concerns

New concerns have arisen over the health and mental competency of Sen. Dianne Feinstein after a recorded conversation appeared to show she was unaware of her nearly three-month absence from Washington.

Feinstein returned to Washington last Tuesday, May 9, and to Capitol Hill last Wednesday after two and a half months away as the 89-year-old California Senator recovered from shingles. Feinstein's health has been the center of controversy over the past few years. Her recent absence saw some urging Feinstein to resign, despite the fact that she already said she will not be seeking re-election in 2024.

Now back in D.C., a recent recorded conversation involving Feinstein and two reporters, including Ben Oreskes of the Los Angeles Times, has people concerned again about the senator's cognitive ability.

"What has the response from your colleagues been like? The well-wishes, what have you heard," Oreskes is heard asking Feinstein. 

"What have I heard about what," Feinstein replied.

When Oreskes continued to ask Feinstein about her absence, Feinstein said "No, I haven't been gone… I haven't been gone I've been working."

Oreskes pressed further, asking the senator if she meant she'd been working from home in San Francisco, but Feinstein insisted that she had been in Washington and that "I've been voting. Please, either know or don't know." 


While many California representatives have refused to comment on whether they think Feinstien should continue in office, Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents San Jose, renewed his calls for Feinstein to resign.

Sara Sadhwani teaches American politics at Pomona College, and said that Feinstein's Washington connections and power are part of why California representatives are hesitant to call for Feinstein's resignation. Another reason is Feinstein's position on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approves judicial nominations. Feinstein requested to be temporarily replaced on the committee back in April, but Senate Republicans denied the request, stalling many votes before the committee. Senate Republicans have also said they would not support Democrats putting someone else in her place if she were to resign.

Feinstein is the oldest U.S. Senator and has been representing California since 1992.