Sen. Robert Menendez, a long-serving Democrat from New Jersey, is defying calls from members of his party, including the state’s governor to step down and resign his seat after being indicted this week on highly incriminating charges.
“At least a dozen New Jersey and national Democrats have called on Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., to resign from office after he was indicted on bribery charges Friday,” Fox News reported, adding:
The calls ramped up after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said the allegations that Menendez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for favors were “deeply disturbing” and that Menendez should immediately step down. Were Menendez to resign, Murphy would appoint an interim senator to serve until Menendez’s current term ends in 2025.
“These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system,” Murphy said Friday. While noting that the senator is innocent until proven guilty, he added that “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.”
The governor’s call was supported by New Jersey Democratic Party chair LeRoy Jones, who also urged Menendez to step down to prevent his legal issues from diverting voters’ attention during the upcoming state legislative elections in November.
“The allegations contained in the indictment that was unsealed today, if they are proven to be true, are incredibly serious and raise disturbing questions,” Jones noted in a statement late Friday.
“In the interest of ensuring that New Jerseyans continue to be granted the federal representation that they deserve, and to make sure that our party is able to keep its focus on the critical upcoming state legislative session in November, I believe that the best course of action is for Senator Menendez to resign so that he can focus his full attention on his legal defense,” he added.
New Jersey federal Reps. Andy Kim, Miki Sherrill, Bill Pascrell, and Frank Pallone have also issued statements calling on Menendez to resign.
Kim was the first Democrat to call for Menendez to step down.
“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,” Kim told The Hill in a statement. “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.
“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 noted further. “He should step down.”
This is the second time Menendez has been indicted for alleged bribery. His first case ended in a mistrial.