Bob Menendez is rejecting the wave of calls for him to resign after his federal indictment, arguing that 'some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat'
- Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey has defiantly stated that he is not stepping down from office.
- Menendez on Friday was charged with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes.
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey on Friday was charged with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes, the second time he has faced federal corruption charges as a member of the upper chamber.
The veteran Democratic lawmaker temporarily stepped down from his position as chairman of the Foreign Relations committee.
But after Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the senator's charges and detailed what his office said was an expansive corruption scheme, a slew of Garden State Democrats called on their colleague to resign from office.
Rep. Andy Kim, the first Democratic lawmaker in the state's congressional delegation to tell Menendez to call it quits, on Saturday announced he's challenging the senator in next year's Democratic primary.
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, along with Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Donald Norcross, Frank Pallone Jr., Bill Pascrell, and Mikie Sherrill, have also pressed the senator to resign.
But Menendez indicated he is not leaving office.
"It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat," he wrote in a statement in response to Democratic officials who have publicly broken with him. "I am not going anywhere."
Menendez was appointed to the Senate in January 2006 by then-Gov. Jon Corzine, who previously held the seat and had just taken office in Trenton. The senator was elected to a full term later that year and reelected in 2012 and 2018.
And Menendez is up for reelection next year, creating a politically-perilous situation where he could stand trial while also campaigning for a fourth full term in office — a scenario many Democrats would prefer not to see unfold.
Republicans, who would love to contest a race in a state where their Senate nominees have not won since 1972, quickly pounced on the news of the senator's indictment.
"Bob Menendez is a disgrace who abused his Senate seat and allegedly betrayed his country for a couple hundred thousand dollars," Senate Republican campaign committee spokesman Philip Letsou said in a statement. "Democrats covered for Menendez the first time he got indicted for corruption. It would be a shame if they did so again."
The indictment alleges that the senator "provided sensitive US government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt."
Menendez in 2015 was accused of seeking to aid a Florida eye doctor in exchange for gifts and campaign contributions, but the case ended in a mistrial in 2017.
"To those who were digging my political grave so that they could jump into my seat, I know who you are, and I won't forget you," the senator said at the time.
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