In a significant turn of events, 24 Senate Democrats are now calling for the resignation of Senator Bob Menendez, following his recent indictment on bribery and corruption charges. This includes his longtime friend and fellow senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker. Booker described the allegations against Menendez as “shocking” and expressed his belief that stepping down is the best course of action. Other senators who have joined the call for Menendez’s resignation, including Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, are up for re-election in 2024 and face competitive contests in swing states crucial for Democrats to maintain control of the chamber.
The indictment alleges that Menendez and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for his influence to benefit certain individuals and the Egyptian government. Prosecutors claim to have found around $480,000 in cash hidden in his home, some of which contained fingerprints and/or DNA from those charged with bribing him. Menendez and his wife have vehemently denied any wrongdoing, with the senator stating that the cash was his own and that he had been withdrawing money from his savings account for emergencies. Despite the growing calls for his resignation, Menendez declared his innocence and asserted that he will fight to clear his name.
The senator’s refusal to step down has prompted further demands for a separate Senate ethics investigation, apart from the ongoing criminal case. Senator Klobuchar, among others, has advocated for immediate action in light of Menendez’s reluctance to resign. Local officials and Democrats in the House, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have also added their voices to the chorus calling for Menendez to step aside. Meanwhile, Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey has announced his intention to challenge Menendez for his Senate seat, further escalating the pressure on the embattled senator.