Senate. John Fetterman, D-Penn., New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has called for her resignation in the wake of the explosive bribery allegations against her, but so far her Democratic colleagues have been more defensive.
In interviews on Sunday news shows, the three Democratic senators sharply criticized Menendez, who was recently indicted on corruption charges.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who sat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until Friday and was chaired by Menendez, called the allegations against him “catastrophic.”
“No senator should trade their position to enrich themselves. I find it hard to believe that Senator Menendez can do his job effectively based on these allegations, but I want to come back and talk to my colleagues. Before I recommend a path forward for Senator Menendez on the Foreign Relations Committee, ” Murphy said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehard.”
Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., CBS’Face the nation“The allegations against Menendez are “serious and shocking.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Kelly said, adding that Menendez has stepped down as foreign relations chief.
“That’s a serious move,” Kelly said, but “I think Sen. Menendez should think long and hard about the cloud that will hang over his service in the United States Senate.”
“He needs to figure out if he can adequately serve the people of New Jersey,” Kelly said.
Menendez and his wife were charged Friday with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion. The bribes they allegedly received included “cash, gold bars, home mortgage payments, compensation for low or no-show work, a luxury vehicle and other items of value.”
Federal investigators who executed a search warrant at his Englewood Cliffs, NJ, home found more than $480,000 in cash, “much of which was stuffed in envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and safes,” according to the indictment.
Fetterman became the first Democratic senator to call on Menendez to resign on Saturday. “He deserves the presumption of innocence under our system, but he has no right to continue to exercise influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations,” he said in a statement.
Menendez has denied wrongdoing and said in a statement Friday night that “I’m not going anywhere.”
Illinois Senate. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, told CNN’s “State of the Union“Sunday said there was “no question” the allegations against Menendez were “very serious.”
But he said his future depends on him and his constituents. “As for the resignation, that is a decision for Senator Menendez and the people of New Jersey to make.”
“An accused person deserves the presumption of innocence and it’s the government’s responsibility to prove that case. I said that about Donald Trump. I’ll say the same thing about Bob Menendez,” Durbin added.
Meanwhile, numerous Democrats in Menendez’s home state, including NJ Gov. Bill Murphy, have called for him to step down. Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., has called on Menendez to resign and said Saturday he plans to challenge him for his seat.
Before the indictment, Menendez said he plans to seek re-election next year. “That remains to be seen,” Turbin told CNN.
Menendez’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The senator got some support Sunday — Rep. George Santos, RN.Y.
Santos, who was indicted by federal prosecutors on fraud charges in May and has faced bipartisan calls to resign, was asked by NBC News if he thought Menendez should step down.
“I think due process is important, and I think he has a right to defend himself. He’s innocent until proven guilty, and the media needs to stop acting like everyone’s guilty before it’s decided by a jury,” Santos said. He pleaded not guilty in his own case.
“When did we get away from our constitution where everybody has a presumption of innocence before anything else? So I don’t think he should resign.”