On Tuesday, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey joined calls from his Democratic colleagues for Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to resign in the wake of a federal indictment accusing him of corruption-related offenses.
“Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost,” Booker said in a statement. “Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve. And in this case he must do so again. I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”
Booker expressed difficulty reconciling the allegations with his personal knowledge of Menendez. He is the latest Senate Democrat to call for Menendez’s resignation, joining Senators Tammy Baldwin, Jack Rosen, and Jon Tester on Tuesday.
Baldwin, from Wisconsin, emphasized that while Menendez is entitled to the presumption of innocence and his day in court, it would be in the best interest of his constituents, the American people, and national security for him to step down.
Tester, of Montana, echoed Baldwin’s concerns and expressed deep disturbance over the detailed charges against Menendez. He also called for Menendez’s resignation to maintain the public’s faith in the U.S. Senate.
Despite the Democratic Party’s slim majority in the Senate, several of Menendez’s Democratic colleagues, including Senators Peter Welch of Vermont, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, have also called for his resignation.
Senator Rosen, who faces reelection in Nevada next year, labeled the political corruption charges against Menendez a violation of public trust and urged his resignation, while acknowledging his right to due process.
Fetterman, the first to call for Menendez’s resignation over the weekend, pledged to return $5,000 in campaign donations received from Menendez’s political action committee.
Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, are accused of accepting bribes, including gold, cash, mortgage payments, compensation for a no-show job, and a luxury vehicle in exchange for the senator’s influence. Menendez remains defiant against calls for resignation, vowing to fight the legal battle and maintain his position as New Jersey’s senior senator.
Menendez’s wife has also denied wrongdoing and plans to contest the federal indictment. The senator, who faces reelection next year and has been in the Senate since 2006, previously fought off federal bribery and corruption charges in 2015, attributing the legal troubles to undisclosed forces seeking to silence him.
Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District has announced his intention to challenge Menendez in the Democratic primary if Menendez seeks reelection.