Capitol police are blocking photographers from getting pictures of wheelchair-bound Senator Dianne Feinstein, according to a Los Angeles Times photographer.
Kent Nishimura says the Democratic 89-year-old Californian senator has used “every trick in the book” to shield herself from the press’s gaze since returning from an extended absence owing to her recovery from shingles.
Nishimura writes that Feinstein’s staff have been forming a “human barrier” around her and the Senate sergeant-at-arms declared her arrival at Capitol Hill as “closed press” using Capitol police to chase journalists out of hallways and public spaces.
“This unprecedented act of restricting press freedom only raises more questions,” writes Nishimura.
“I photographed the senator as a staff member tried to hide her wheelchair behind a pillar at a low-profile exit last week.
“A Capitol Police officer shouted at me to move back — despite already being 30 feet away from the senator. Feinstein waved as she was escorted to a waiting vehicle.”
— Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) May 18, 2023
Feinstein’s absence has been a problem for the Democrat party, preventing them from advancing a series of judicial nominees, and causing several House Democrats to call for her resignation. She recently announced that she won’t be running for re-election.
The complications from Feinstein’s illness include encephalitis which is a swelling of the brain that can cause memory loss.
Nishimura says that even before her illness Feinstein was shrouded by her staff which includes Nancy Pelosi’s eldest daughter Nancy Corinne Prowda.
“I’ve found myself regularly watching as Prowda runs interference and shields the senator from reporters, sometimes placing herself between them,” the photographer adds.
Worryingly, when a reporter did manage to ask Feinstein some questions she appeared to not remember being off with illness.
“I haven’t been gone,” she tells an LA Times jounralist after being asked about the well-wishes she had received. “You should … I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”
“You’ve been working from home is what you’re saying?” Replies the reporter.
“No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting. Please, either know or don’t know.”
In a statement to the LA Times, Feinstein’s office denied hiding her from the press.
“Our office has not asked photographers to not take pictures of her in her wheelchair,” Feinstein spokesman Adam Russell says.
“We did ask, and continue to ask for safety reasons, that photographers and reporters give her space, particularly when entering and exiting her vehicle.”
Image credits: Feature photo by Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.