Sen. John Fetterman, D-Penn., has called for New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s resignation over explosive bribery allegations against him, but so far her Democratic colleagues have been more cautious.
In interviews on Sunday news shows, three Democratic senators were highly critical of Menendez, who was recently indicted on sweeping corruption charges, but did not call on him to vacate his seat in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Menendez chaired until Friday, called the allegations against him “devastating.”
“No senator should use their office to enrich themselves. Given these allegations, I find it difficult to believe that Senator Menendez can do his job successfully, but I think I want to come back and talk to my colleagues.” “I will recommend a path forward for Senator Menendez,” Murphy said in an interview with MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart.”
Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, told CBS: “Face the nationThe allegations against Menendez are “serious and shocking.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Kelly said, noting that Menendez had resigned from his position as chairman of the Department of External Relations.
“This is a serious step,” Kelly said, but “I think Senator Menendez is going to have to think long and hard about the cloud that will hang over his service in the U.S. 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 racketeering, among other charges. The bribes they allegedly received included “cash, gold bullion, payments on a home mortgage, compensation for a job that was unused or infrequently used, a luxury vehicle and other items of value,” the indictment says.
Federal investigators executing a search warrant at his home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, found more than $480,000 in cash, “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe,” the indictment says.
Fetterman on Saturday became the first Democratic senator to call for Menendez’s resignation. “He is entitled to the presumption of innocence in our system, but he has no right to continue to influence national politics, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations,” he said in a statement.
Menendez denied any wrongdoing and said in a statement Friday evening, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the second-largest Democrat in the Senate, told CNN: “State of the nation“There is no question” that the allegations against Menendez are “very serious.”
But his future lies with him and his voters, he said. “As for resignation, that is a decision that must be made by Senator Menendez and the people of New Jersey.”
“The person being charged is entitled to the presumption of innocence and it is the government’s responsibility to prove this case. That’s what I said about Donald Trump. I’ll say the same thing about Bob Menendez,” Durbin added.
Numerous Democrats in Menendez’s home state, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, have now called for his resignation. Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., has also called on Menendez to resign and said he plans to challenge him for his seat on Saturday.
Menendez said before the arraignment that he would seek re-election next year. Durbin told CNN: “That remains to be seen.”
Menendez’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The senator received support Sunday from an unlikely source — Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y.
Santos, who was indicted by federal prosecutors on fraud charges in May and has faced bipartisan calls for his resignation, was asked by NBC News whether he thought Menendez should resign.
“I think due process is important and I think he has the right to defend himself. He is innocent until proven guilty. “The media needs to stop acting like everyone is guilty before they are even judged by a jury,” said Santos, who pleaded not guilty in his own case.
“When did we say goodbye to the structure of our constitution, which provides everyone with the presumption of innocence? So I don’t think he should resign.”