New Jersey Democrats are demanding that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) resign after his second federal corruption indictment in ten years.
“It doesn’t matter what your job title is or your politics — no one in America is above the law,” Kim said in the statement, adding later that: “In the meantime, I don’t have confidence that the Senator has the ability to properly focus on our state and its people while addressing such a significant legal matter. He should step down.”
Gov. Phil Murphy (D) also called for Menendez to resign, saying that the allegations “compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state.” The leaders of the two state legislative chambers also called for Menendez’s resignation.
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) signaled that he would not push for the senator’s resignation in a Friday statement which lauded Menendez for being a “dedicated public servant.”
“He has a right to due process and a fair trial,” Schumer said.
Other senators, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), have so far been silent on the case. Menendez leaving would open up a competitive race for his seat, one likely being eyed by members of Congress from the state’s delegation, including those calling for his resignation.
Menendez faces three counts in a Manhattan federal indictment unsealed on Friday. Prosecutors accused Menendez and his wife Nadine of taking gold bars, furniture, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, cash, and other favors from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for official acts.
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, and intervening when the USDA opposed the Egyptian government’s decision to grant a monopoly to a halal meat importer which allegedly kicked back cash to Menendez’s wife via a no-show job.
Menendez can no longer serve as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee per Senate Democratic Conference rules, which bar members charged with a felony from serving as committee chairs.
Schumer, in the statement, characterized that decision as Menendez having “rightly decided to step down.” After Menendez’s 2015 corruption indictment ended in a mistrial which the DOJ declined to reup, Schumer agreed to give the senator a spot as ranking member on the Committee.
With the Democrats’ new majority in 2021, Menendez returned. He’s charged in part with abusing power gained via his position on the committee.
Tom Malinowski, a former New Jersey representative who left Congress in January after being defeated in the 2022 midterms, said that he believed Menendez should resign.
“How can we ask Americans to vote against an indicted Trump, but for an indicted Democratic Senator, especially with evidence this damning?” he wrote.