The calls for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign from office are mounting after he was indicted on federal bribery and corruption charges last week.
Over the weekend, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) became the first Democratic senator to publicly call on Menendez to 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,” Fetterman said in a statement. “I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial.”
He is so far the only Senate Democrat to make a resignation call. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Friday that Menendez would step down from his committee chairmanship, but signaled he wouldn’t push for a resignation.
“Bob Menendez has been a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey. He has a right to due process and a fair trial,” Schumer said Friday, before saying the senator would step down from the House Foreign Affairs Committee “temporarily.”
Menendez faces three counts in a Manhattan federal indictment, which was unsealed on Friday. Menendez and his wife Nadine have been accused of taking gold bars, furniture, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, cash, and other favors from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for official acts, according to the indictment.
Those official acts allegedly included transferring sensitive government information to the government of Egypt, trying to thwart state and federal criminal investigations of his associates, among other things.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the lower chamber have been more vocal around the issue.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called on Menendez to step down and pushed back on his claim that he is being targeted because he is a Latino lawmaker.
“As a Latina, there are absolutely ways in which there is systemic bias. But I think what is here in this indictment is quite clear,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Swalwell also took advantage of the opportunity to debunk the persistent GOP argument that the Department of Justice is being “weaponized” against Republicans.
“This just shows that the rule of law applies to everyone,” Swalwell said on MSNBC. “Whether it’s the former president, whether it’s the current president’s son or whether it’s a Democratic senator.”
On Friday, New Jersey Democrats — including Reps. Andy Kim and Mikie Sherill (D-NJ) and Gov. Phil Murphy — were quick to demand that Menendez resign. If Menendez were to step down, it would open up a competitive race among New Jersey Democrats eyeing his seat, including those from the state’s congressional delegation who were quick to call on him to step down.
As the calls for his resignation mount, Menendez is expected to hold a press conference later today.