It sounds like the Chronicle caught Senator Dianne Feinstein off guard this morning, getting her on the phone after a Senate committee hearing, leading to some cleanup work by her staff and a follow-up phone call.
The questions the Chronicle had weren't about Feinstein's health, or about her work of late in the Senate. They were about this gossip-y story involving the estate of Feinstein's late husband, and a conflict that has apparently been going on either between Feinstein's eldest daughter, from a previous marriage, Katherine Feinstein, and the trustees of of the estate, or between Katherine Feinstein and her stepsisters.
And while Feinstein's mental fitness is certainly newsworthy, she lumbers on in the Senate, and it is not new news that she flubs some stuff these days and is mostly propped up by aides.
So it starts to just feel mean-spirited that the Chronicle is trying to call Feinstein out for seeming confused when asked Wednesday morning about the trustee case, and her giving a limited power of attorney to her daughter. She apparently said, first, that she "gave no permission to do anything" to anyone, but then had to call the Chronicle back and read what sounds like a prepared statement.
"I’ve asked my daughter to handle the case. And it’s so I can focus on what I’m doing back here in Washington," Feinstein told the paper. "It’s a difficult time for me, and so I really don’t have time for other things."
She further added, "I’ve entrusted my daughter to handle those things that I believe she can. And she’s very smart and if it doesn’t work, we’ll change it. But so far, so good."
The senator went on to say, "This is all a family matter. It has nothing to do with the Senate or, frankly, anything else. I’ve got my hands full with committee work and intelligence work and other things. I’m proud of it, I work hard and try to — because we’re far away — look after the California issues like wildfire and water that are vital to our survival."
Sounding frustrated, Feinstein also told the Chron, "I don’t know why I have to discuss my private family matters. I am legally entitled to be able to do this."
Katherine Feinstein is set to be in court next week, on Monday, September 11, for a first hearing on the multiple lawsuits she and the senator filed this summer against the trustees of Blum's estate, who are two former business partners of his.
They claim that the trustees, Michael Klein and Marc Scholvinck, have withheld $170,000 they requested to cover the senator's medical bills following her winter bout with shingles. And as the Chronicle reports, those expenses do not appear to have been paid.
The trustees have said in a statement that the claims about the medical expenses and a charge of elder abuse are "utterly irrelevant" and intended "to create a media spectacle and distract" from Katherine Feinstein's true purpose in the suit, which they claim is to resolve a disagreement over who the trustees of the estate should be.
It's confusing, and it also has something to do with wanting to sell a home that Feinstein and Blum bought together in Stinson Beach.
"The trustees have always respected Senator Feinstein and always will," said Klein and Scholvinck in a statement last month. "But this has nothing to do with her needs and everything to do with her daughter’s avarice."
Photo: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) listens during a confirmation hearing for Michael Casey and U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Timothy Haugh before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at Hart Senate Office Building on July 12, 2023 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Casey will become the next Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and Lt. Gen. Haugh will become the next Director of the National Security Agency if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)