U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) delivers remarks, after he and his wife Nadine Menendez were indicted on bribery offenses in connection with their corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen, in Union City, New Jersey, U.S., September 25, 2023.
Mike Segar | Reuters
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker joined a fast-growing chorus of Democrats to call on Sen. Bob Menendez, his fellow lawmaker from New Jersey, to resign because of his indictment last week on federal bribery charges.
“I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving,” Booker said in a statement on his X account.
Booker called the allegations of corruption against Menendez “shocking” and “disturbing.”
“I’ve found the allegations hard to reconcile with the person I know,” wrote Booker, who noted he had worked with Menendez for nearly a decade.
By Tuesday morning, over 12 of Menendez’s fellow Democratic senators had asked that he step down in light of the allegations that he and his wife, Nadine, accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, and more from three Garden State businessmen in exchange for favors.
Before Monday, Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania was the only Senate Democrat to call on Menendez to resign.
He since has been joined by Sens. Booker, Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, Peter Welch, Tammy Baldwin, Jon Tester, Jacky Rosen, Bob Casey, Elizabeth Warren, Martin Heinrich, Kirsten Gillibrand and Mark Kelly.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who previously served as House speaker, told MSNBC in an interview Monday night, “It probably would be a good idea if he did resign.”
At least five House Democratic members from New Jersey have called on Menendez to resign. A group of New Jersey state elected officials, among them Gov. Phil Murphy, has asked that he do so, as have at least 11 of the state’s 21 Democratic county chairs.
The Senate’s top Democrat, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, has not called on Menendez to resign. Schumer’s caucus totals 48 senators.
Menendez stepped aside as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but remains a member of that panel, as well as a member of the Banking and Finance committees.
But Menendez has said he has no plans to quit the Senate.
“Yes, he should resign,” Klobuchar told NBC News. “But he has said he won’t, so that’s why I’ve called for the Senate investigation, the Senate ethics investigation to begin immediately separate & apart from the ongoing criminal case.”
The campaigns of Tester and Casey, who are up for re-election next year, told CNBC they will donate the thousands of dollars each campaign received from Menendez’s leadership political action committee this spring to charity.
Fetterman’s spokesman on Monday said the senator was returning $5,000 from Menendez’s PAC “in envelopes stuffed with $100 bills.”
Prosecutors said that during a raid last year on Menendez’s New Jersey home and a safe deposit box, federal agents found more than $480,000 in cash, scores of gold bars and a luxury vehicle that were the “fruits of [the couple’s] corrupt bribery agreement” with three New Jersey businessmen.
Menendez suggested to reporters Monday hat the cash found by investigators “were monies drawn from my personal savings account based on the income that I have lawfully derived.”