Sen. Bob Menendez “Not Going Anywhere” Despite Growing Calls from Top Democrats to Resign
A growing chorus of prominent Democrats—including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy—are calling on Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign in the wake of Friday’s shocking indictment in Manhattan federal court, despite his insistence that he’s “not going anywhere.”
The indictment is chock full of lurid details, including allegations that Menendez accepted envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash and gold bars in exchange for using his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to benefit the Egyptian government.
“The allegations in the indictment against Senator Menendez and four other defendants are deeply disturbing. These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system,” Murphy said in a statement Friday. “The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation.”
It is the senator’s second criminal indictment in eight years. His previous corruption charges filed in 2015 were dismissed after a jury could not reach a verdict in 2017.
Due to Senate bylaws, Menendez was forced to step down from leadership since he was charged with a felony but has actively rejected calls for his resignation.
“For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave,” the 69-year-old said in a statement. “Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources … It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere.”
In addition to Murphy, five Democratic representatives have called for the senator’s resignation as of Saturday morning, including three—Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, and Donald Norcross—widely expected to run for Menendez’s Senate seat in 2024. New Jersey Globe editor David Wildstein noted Saturday morning that Norcross’s call for resignation is especially indicative of the mood among Democrats, as Menendez “has been close to the Norcross family for decades.”
Several state and local officials have also joined the chorus. Both New Jersey State Senate President Nick Scutari and State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin called on Menendez to resign, with Coughlin arguing that the charges “go against everything we should believe as public servants.” “We are given the public’s trust, and once that trust is broken, we cannot continue,” he added. New Jersey Democratic Party Chair LeRoy Jones cited next year’s election as the main reason for Menendez to step down.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, however, declined to say whether his colleague should resign. “Bob Menendez has been a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey,” Schumer said in a brief statement. “He has a right to due process and a fair trial.”
And Menendez’s fellow New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has also been silent so far about the indictments. As a young politician, Booker was mentored by Menendez, whom he has called “ “one of the greatest advocates for justice on the planet Earth.” Booker also testified at Menendez’s 2017 trial, where he called Menendez “trustworthy and honest.”