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.
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. The governor emphasized that Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, but said “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 request was echoed by New Jersey Democratic Party chair LeRoy Jones, who said Menendez should resign so his legal problems don’t distract voters in 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 wrote 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 continued.
New Jersey federal Reps. Andy Kim, Miki Sherrill, Bill Pascrell, and Frank Pallone have each issued statements calling on Menendez to resign as well.
Kim, who represents New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District in the central part of the state, was the first New Jersey Democrat to do so.
“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 continued. “He should step down.”
More members of Congress weighed in soon after. Rep. Den Phillips, D-Minn., said Democrats who want to restore faith in government must “walk that talk” in an interview on CNN.
“Yes, I am a Democrat and so is Sen. Menendez, but based on what I have seen, I am disappointed and yes, I think he should resign,” Phillips said.
Rep. Jeff Jackson, D-N.C., said the same standard that applied when Democrats called for disgraced Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., to resign for “highly unethical behavior” must also apply to Menendez. Santos was indicted on money laundering and fraud charges but has resisted bipartisan calls to resign and will run for re-election in 2024.
“I called on Rep. Santos to resign when he was indicted because I read the indictment and, at minimum, it detailed highly unethical behavior. The same standard must apply to Sen. Menendez,” Jackson posted on X. “The indictment, at minimum, details behavior far below acceptable standards for a U.S. Senator. He should resign.”
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder joined the chorus on X, writing, “As both a leader in the Democratic Party & the former Attorney General and given the nature of the charges, I call upon Senator Menendez to resign.”
“The nation will be better served if he steps aside and allows a transition to occur that will best serve the people of New Jersey,” Holder wrote.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced the indictment of Menendez Friday morning at a press conference.
“Today, I’m announcing that my office has obtained a three count indictment charging Senator Robert Menendez, his wife, Nadine Menendez, and three New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes for bribery offenses,” Williams said.
According to the indictment, the couple accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for using Menendez’s power and influence as a senator to seek to protect and enrich Hana, Uribe, and Daibes and to benefit the Arab Republic of Egypt.”
The alleged bribes included gold, cash, payments toward a mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury car, and “other things of value.” Menendez had disclosed his family accepted gold bars in 2020.
Menenez has denied all wrongdoing and insisted that he will not resign.
“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 a defiant 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.”
Fox News’ Adam Sabes contributed to this report.