Democrats, Republicans want Menendez to resign over corruption charges

Democrats, Republicans want Menendez to resign over corruption charges

24 Sept 2023 ( USA Today )

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is facing heavy pressure from Democratic and Republican colleagues to resign following a sprawling indictment that alleges the New Jersey Democrat accepted bribes and leveraged his position to engage in corruption. 

As the calls for him to resign get louder, Menendez has remained defiant, denying the indictment’s allegations and saying in a statement he is “not going anywhere.” Menendez’s resistance motivated Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., to mount a primary challenge against him. 

“After calls to resign, Senator Menendez said ‘I am not going anywhere.’ As a result, I feel compelled to run against him,” Kim said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, announcing his Senate bid. “Not something I expected to do, but (New Jersey) deserves better. We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity.”

Almost all of New Jersey’s Democratic House delegation has publicly called on Menendez to step down, including Donald Norcross, Josh Gottheimer, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell and Mikie Sherrill. 

“These are serious allegations against Senator Menendez and if proven true, there is no room for this kind of conduct in public service,” Sherrill said on X.

“I believe the senator deserves his day in court, with a presumption of innocence,” Gottheimer said on X. “That said, given the gravity of the allegations, I believe it will be difficult for the senator to carry out his responsibilities. For the good of the state, he should step aside as he focuses on his defense.”

Norcross in a statement said that “Although the senator has many accomplishments over his decades in public service, we cannot be distracted.”

“For that reason, Senator Menendez should step aside in order to deal with these allegations and so that another can focus fully on the requirements of serving the people of New Jersey in the United States Senate,” he added.

On the state level, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called on Menendez to resign, saying in a statement “The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state.”

And in a rare moment of unity, Menendez’s colleagues on the left aren’t the only ones urging him to step down. Though Democrats appeared to issue a louder call for Menendez to resign, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., also told reporters he believes the New Jersey lawmaker should make the move.

Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie, a former governor of New Jersey, called the indictment against Menendez “sickening.”

“No public official making $174,000 a year should have nearly $500,000 in cash stuffed in clothes in his house, not to mention gold bars. He should resign,” Christie shared on X.

Prosecutors allege Menendez, along with his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, accepted bribes of cash, gold, mortgage payments and a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for enriching the Egyptian government. 

The indictment describes $480,000 in cash stowed away, with some of the money stuffed into jackets embroidered with Menendez’s name and the U.S. Senate seal. Investigators also found more than $100,000 in gold bars in Menendez’s home.

After a trip to Egypt in October 2021, according to the indictment, Menendez searched on Google “how much is one kilo of gold worth.” 

Menendez is also accused of interfering with a New Jersey attorney general’s investigation of a relative of a New Jersey businessman, who is a co-defendant in the indictment. The indictment also charges Menendez with attempting to influence the federal prosecution of another Garden State businessman, another co-defendant. 

According to the indictment, in exchange for Menendez’s help, the businessmen provided mortgage payments for Nadine Menendez’ home and gifted her a Mercedes-Benz convertible. 

Noticeably, Menendez’s fellow Senate Democrat from the Garden State, Sen. Cory Booker has yet to comment on the charges. So far, Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., is the only senator to have called for Menendez’s resignation. 

“Senator Menendez should resign. He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system, but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations. I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial,” Fetterman said in a statement.