Hillary Clinton: Feinstein should not resign from Senate

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note Feinstein’s status as one of California’s first women elected to the Senate.

Hillary Clinton said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) should not resign from her seat in the Senate, despite the 89-year-old’s recent health problems and growing calls from some Democratic lawmakers for her to step down.

Clinton, a former New York senator, stressed the political reality that if Feinstein resigned, Republicans likely not allow a Democratic replacement to join the Senate Judiciary Committee, effectively preventing Democrats from confirming any judicial appointments.

“Here’s the dilemma: The Republicans will not agree to add someone else to the Judiciary Committee if she retires,” Clinton told Time magazine in an interview published Tuesday.

“I want you to think about how crummy that is. I don’t know in her heart about whether she really would or wouldn’t, but right now, she can’t. Because if we’re going to get judges confirmed, which is one of the most important continuing obligations that we have, then we cannot afford to have her seat vacant,” the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate continued.

Feinstein’s health reportedly has been deteriorating in the past few years, but when her recent bout of shingles and encephalitis kept her away from the Senate for two months until early May, some Democratic lawmakers began publicly saying it was time for her to resign. Even now, having returned to the Senate, there are reports of memory loss as she continues her recovery. 

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) was the first member of Congress to call for Feinstein’s resignation and recently doubled down on his call after Feinstein’s return to the Senate. 

“It’s sad for anyone to see,” Khanna said on MSNBC.

Feinstein has been a trailblazer in the Senate and California politics throughout the past few decades. She was the first female mayor of San Francisco and was one of the first two women elected to the Senate from California. She also played a key role in passing a 10-year assault weapons ban in 1994 and led the drive to expose the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11.

Clinton defended Feinstein’s legacy in the interview with Time and stressed she was recently reelected by the voters of California.

“Let me say a word about my friend and longtime colleague Dianne Feinstein,” Clinton told Time. “First of all, she has suffered greatly from the bout of shingles and encephalitis that she endured. Here is the dilemma for her: She got reelected, the people of California voted for her again, not very long ago. That was the voters’ decision to vote for her, and she has been a remarkable and very effective leader.”

Updated at 2:16 p.m.

Tags Dianne Feinstein Dianne Feinstein Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton resignation Ro Khanna Senate

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