New Jersey Senator Menendez Rejects Calls From Fellow Democrats to Resign – Numerous Democrats, including the governor of his home state, are urging fellow party member Robert Menendez to step down following federal charges of bribery against the New Jersey US senator and his spouse. Despite these calls, Senator Menendez remains resolute in rejecting the allegations and refuses to resign.
Federal authorities disclosed charges on Friday, alleging that Robert and Nadine Menendez unlawfully received bribes in the form of gold bars, cash, a lavish Mercedes-Benz vehicle, and various gifts. These favors were purportedly in exchange for actions that benefited three businessmen and involved influencing the Egyptian government. In reaction, Democratic Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota expressed profound disappointment in Menendez during an interview with CNN.
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He emphasized that despite his belief in the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, he maintained his stance that Senator Menendez should step down. “Yes, I am a Democrat and so is Senator Menendez, but based on what I have seen, I am disappointed and yes, I think he should resign,” Phillips said. He continued: “I’m appalled. Anybody who pays attention – I don’t care [about] your politics, Democrat or Republican, you should be appalled.”
“A member of Congress who appears to have broken the law is someone who I should believe should resign.” Phillips proceeded to mention the situation of George Santos, the Republican congressman facing 13 counts of fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds, for which he has pleaded not guilty. “I think George Santos should have resigned already,” he said. “Sadly, our House ethics process, and I would argue the Senate as well, is not as proficient as it needs to be so we have to rely on the judicial system, but I’m really disappointed.”
Menendez rejected calls to resign and plans to refute the claims of bribery and corruption, according to NBC News. “Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty. I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades,” Menendez said in the statement. “This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along. 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,” he added.
In response to a question on whether Democratic leaders in Congress should lean on Menendez to resign and push him out, Phillips replied: “Look, I am trying to restore faith in government.” “That’s one of my missions. It’s a lot of my colleagues’ missions, and sometimes we have to walk that talk, even if it’s uncomfortable. And I would argue that this time, yes, the answer is absolutely.” The New Jersey representative Andy Kim, a Democrat, also called on Menendez to resign.
The New Jersey Globe quoted Kim as saying: “These allegations are serious and alarming. It doesn’t matter what your job title is or your politics – no one in America is above the law.” “The people of New Jersey absolutely need to know the truth of what happened, and I hope the judicial system works thoroughly and quickly to bring this truth to light.”
He added: “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.” Unsurprisingly, New Jersey’s Republican state committee joined Phillips and Kim in calling for Menendez to step down. The statement said Menendez’s “legal woes [were] an embarrassing distraction.”
“For the good of the people of this state, who deserve full and devoted representation, we call on Robert Menendez to resign,” the statement added. In New Jersey, when a vacancy occurs in the US Senate, it is customary for the seat to be temporarily filled by a gubernatorial appointment before a special election takes place to choose a permanent replacement. If Menendez were to step down, the state’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, would have the responsibility of making that appointment.
This situation might explain why it is somewhat less awkward for Phillips and Kim to urge their fellow party members to resign. Furthermore, Governor Murphy himself issued a statement on Friday in which he also called for Menendez’s resignation. “The allegations in the indictment are deeply disturbing,” the statement said. “These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system.”
In the past few months, Democrats have not only urged for Santos’ removal from Congress but have also insisted that Donald Trump refrain from seeking a second presidential term. This comes as Trump faces over 90 criminal charges spanning four distinct indictments. In May, House Democrats introduced a resolution aimed at expelling the indicted Santos from Congress, but Republicans effectively circumvented this move.
Meanwhile, Virginia’s Democratic US senator Tim Kaine said earlier this month that he believed there was a “powerful argument” to be made that Trump could be disqualified from running in the 2024 presidential election under the 14th amendment of the constitution. That amendment bars anyone who has taken an oath to support the constitution and has “engaged in insurrection” against the US from holding any civil, military or elected office without approval from two-thirds of both the House and Senate.