It was an uncomfortable moment.
Democrats were cringing.
And a top Democrat said something about Kamala Harris that left jaws on the ground.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is 89 years old, has missed months of Senate hearings due to being in the hospital with shingles. The illness led to Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss.
A new event has revealed the confusion that Feinstein faces.
She appeared confused when Vice President Kamala Harris showed up to be a tie-breaking vote last year according to The New York Times.
Feinstein asked colleagues, “What is she doing here?” despite Harris having cast 29 tie-breaking votes, in her role as president of the Senate.
This isn’t the only time Feinstein has appeared forgetful. She also seemed to forget the fact that she was absent from the Senate for 10 weeks. She gave a strange answer when reporters questioned her on her lengthy illness.
“No, I haven’t been gone,” she said, Slate reported in May. “You should follow the — I haven’t been gone, I’ve been working.”
Another reporter asked whether she had been working from home. “No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” she said. “Please, you either know or don’t know.”
Photographer Kent Nishimura reported that Senate security is going to great lengths to protect Feinstein from the press according to the Los Angeles Times on May 24th.
“For two days in a row last week, the Senate sergeant-at-arms office has said her arrival at the Capitol ‘is closed press,’ shutting doors and using the Capitol police to chase journalists out of hallways and public spaces. This unprecedented act of restricting press freedom only raises more questions,” he said.
Nishimura wrote that since her return, Feinstein’s “staff’s efforts to protect” her from the media have “ratcheted up.”
“(H)er staff have used every trick in the book to stay out of sight and at a distance from the press,” he wrote. “In committee meetings, her public remarks have been limited and she is always surrounded by staff. They also often form a human barrier between her and the press corps, with one staffer pushing her wheelchair while others shout at photographers to move out of the way.”
Feinstein’s office claimed that they weren’t trying to shield the aged senator from the media.
“Our office has not asked photographers to not take pictures of her in her wheelchair,” Feinstein spokesman Adam Russell said in a statement to The Times. “We did ask, and continue to ask for safety reasons, that photographers and reporters give her space, particularly when entering and exiting her vehicle.”