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Reporter exposes alarming conversation he had with top Democratic senator: 'I don't know what you're saying'

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A reporter highlighted on Tuesday a concerning exchange he had with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) this week in which Feinstein apparently forgot comments she had made just recently.

What is the background?

At 89 years old, Feinstein is the oldest sitting member of the U.S. Senate and the longest-serving member of her caucus, making her the next in line to become president pro tempore of the Senate.

Taking the position would make her third in the presidential line of succession behind Vice President Kamala Harris and whoever becomes House speaker. But she told the Washington Post last month that she is not interested in the position.

"I’ve never thought about being the president pro tempore, and I have no interest in it at this time," Feinstein said.

What happened with Feinstein?

Insider reporter Bryan Metzger approached Feinstein on Tuesday to confirm Feinstein's decision on the matter. After all, she could become the first woman in Senate history to hold the position if she sought it.

But Feinstein apparently forgot about her previous statement.

"Well, I haven't thought about it, but I'll let you know when I do," the California Democrat told Metzger. "I just got back, I've had a lot of issues."

According to the reporter, one of Feinstein's aides "quickly interjected" to remind Feinstein that she previously disclosed that she is not interested in seeking the distinguished position.

"That's what you've told reporters," the aide reportedly told Feinstein.

"I don't know what you're saying," the senator replied.

"This is about the Senate pro tem position," the aide explained.

"Well, I haven't said anything about it that I know of," she responded.

"You were asked about it over the break, and you put out a statement saying that you had no intention of running for it," the aide informed the boss, referring to the statement Feinstein released last month.

"Okay, well, then, I guess it's out," Feinstein finally said.

Anything else?

The exchange underscored existing concernsabout Feinstein's age and her apparent declining health.

If Feinstein indeed rejects the president pro tem position, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is next in line. Murray, who has served in the Senate for nearly 30 years, is 72 years old.

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