Washington senators join Democrats calling for Sen. Bob Menendez to resign

By: - September 27, 2023 9:23 am

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) speaks during a press conference at Hudson County Community College’s North Hudson Campus on Sept. 25, 2023 in Union City, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Washington U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell on Wednesday joined more than two dozen Senate Democrats who are calling on their embattled colleague, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey to resign.

Menendez and his wife have been indicted on corruption charges. Federal prosecutors, last week, accused him of accepting bribes, including bars of gold bullion and more than $500,000 in cash, in return for helping New Jersey businessmen and using his power in the Senate to benefit Egypt.

Following the indictment, Menendez temporarily stepped aside as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Since then, calls for him to resign have grown. As of Tuesday night, 26 senators were on the record calling for him to resign. Sen. Cory Booker, Menendez’s fellow New Jersey Democrat, is among the group.

On Wednesday, Murray and Cantwell joined the list.

“While Senator Menendez is entitled to his day in court, I believe he should step down and focus on his legal defense,” Murray said in a statement.

She added that, if Menendez refuses to resign, she would encourage the Senate Ethics Committee to open an investigation into the claims against him that are separate from the ongoing criminal case.

Cantwell took a similar position.

“While everyone deserves their day in court, constituents and the Senate deserve the full attention of their elected Senator,” she said in a statement. “I don’t believe anyone under such a damning indictment can effectively serve, and I urge Senator Menendez to step aside.”

Menendez has denied the charges and indicated that he does not intend to resign. On Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court.

“I recognize this will be the biggest fight yet, but as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” Menendez said Monday.

It’s not the first time Menendez has faced accusations of corruption. He was indicted on bribery charges in 2015, but a trial ended in a mistrial in 2017. That case against him then dissolved after a judge acquitted the senator of some charges and the Justice Department dropped others.

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Bill Lucia
Bill Lucia

Bill Lucia is the Standard’s editor-in-chief. He’s covered state and local policy and politics for a decade, nationwide for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and in Seattle for Crosscut.