MANHATTAN, N.Y. (PIX11) – New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife are expected to appear in federal court for the first time Wednesday on bribery and corruption charges.
Menendez has defiantly denied the charges, saying in part, “When all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator.”
More senators are calling on Menendez to resign. About half of Senate Democrats are urging the embattled lawmaker to step down, including Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow — the highest-ranking Democrat to do so.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not echoed those calls, but fellow New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has.
“I’ve found the allegations hard to reconcile with the person I know,” Booker said in a statement. “Stepping down is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she also believes Menendez should step down.
“The American people deserve a government they can trust. They deserve that they are not questioning whether their elected officials are not working for the people or for themselves and in light of that lack of trust, I share Senator Booker’s view that he should step down,” she said.
Menendez and his wife, Nadine, are facing allegations he used his political position to advance the interests of the Egyptian government in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gold bars from three New Jersey businessmen. Nadine Menendez’s lawyers have denied the accusations.
“Now this may seem old fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account,” Menendez said during a news conference following the indictment.
Menendez was forced to step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee last week when the indictment was released.
Menendez said he would not step down from his position but has yet to say if he plans to run for reelection next year.
This is the second time Menendez has been indicted for bribery. A case against him was dropped by a judge in 2017 due to a hung jury.