Members of his own party are urging New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez to step down after he was indicted on federal corruption charges.
Menendez, 69, was charged Friday with felony counts of bribery, fraud and extortion. Prosecutors allege Menendez and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for his power and influence being used to benefit the interests of three New Jersey businessmen and Egypt.
A growing number of prominent Democrats, including New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, have called on the senator to resign from the Senate immediately due to the nature of the accusations.
Menendez rejected calls to resign in a statement emailed to Weekly newspaper On Friday night, he insisted he was “not going anywhere.”
“Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,” Menendez said. “I intend to continue fighting for the people of New Jersey with the same success I have had over the past five years. That’s what these leaders have been praising. record of success.”
“It’s not lost on me that some people are quick to judge a Latino and throw him out of his seat,” he continued. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Earlier on Friday, Menendez did temporarily step down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. However, under Democratic Senate rules, the indictment would force Menendez to resign as committee chairman regardless of his wishes.
Murphy and other top Democrats from the Garden State believe the charges against Menendez are so serious that he won’t be able to do his job effectively. The governor called the allegations “deeply disturbing.”
“These are serious charges that involve national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system,” Murphy said in a statement. “Senator Menendez and the other defendants have not been found guilty and will have the ability to file evidence to challenge these allegations.”
“However, the facts alleged are so serious that they undermine Senator Menendez’s ability to effectively represent the people of our state,” he added. “I therefore call on him to resign immediately.”
New Jersey Democratic Party Chairman Leroy J. Jones Jr. also called on the senator to resign, saying in a statement that doing so would be “in the interest of ensuring New Jerseyans continue to receive the federal representation they deserve.” ” and allowed Menendez “to focus all of his attention on his legal defense.” “
U.S. Rep. Andy King of New Jersey called the allegations “serious and shocking.” urge Menendez resigned in his own statement, questioning the senator’s “ability to properly focus on his job” amid the legal battle.
Other prominent New Jersey Democrats calling on Menendez to resign include state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, state Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Middlesex County Democratic Party Chairman Kevin McCabe and Bergen County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Giuliano.
Menendez has faced corruption charges for years. He was previously indicted in 2015 on charges of conspiracy and bribery-related offences. The senator was tried in a hung jury in 2017 and the charges against him were later dropped.
The senator referred to his previous accusations in a statement Weekly newspaper Earlier on Friday, he also said the new indictment was “part of an aggressive smear campaign by anonymous sources and innuendo to create a climate where wrongdoing was absent.”
“I have been falsely accused before, and because I refused to yield to the powers that be, the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors that I was innocent,” he said. “I believe that once all the facts are laid out, this issue It will be successfully resolved and my fellow New Jerseyans will see what happened.”
Menendez’s presumed resignation would at least temporarily complicate Democrats’ already loosening control of the Senate, although Murphy would almost certainly name another Democrat as his interim replacement in the short term.
Menendez’s Senate seat will be up for grabs in next year’s election, when Democrats face a tough road to retain control of the House. Menendez has not officially announced his candidacy in the 2024 election.