The Wall Street Journal is questioning the motives behind the Democrats' calls for Sen. Bob Menendez to resign.
The New Jersey Democrat and his wife were charged with bribery over their relationship with New Jersey businessmen, which could complicate Democrats' efforts to keep their slim majority in the U.S. Senate in next year's elections.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan accused the defendants of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using Menendez's power and influence as New Jersey's senior senator to seek to protect and enrich the businessmen, and benefit the government of Egypt, according to Reuters.
In an editorial published Tuesday, the Journal said, "The Senator is innocent until proven guilty, so why are his fellow Democrats so willing to run him out of office before a trial? The calls for his resignation came fast and furious over the weekend, most notably from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and members of the Garden State's Democratic House delegation.
"'The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Sen. Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation,' Mr. Murphy said in a statement."
The newspaper agreed the charges are serious, but noted that Menendez was indicted before on corruption charges and beat the rap. That jury didn't agree on a verdict and the charges were dropped by the Justice Department.
"Our guess is that this Democratic rush has something to do with electoral politics," the Journal said. "The state General Assembly is up for election in November, and Mr. Murphy doesn't want news of Democratic corruption dominating the campaign. Better if Mr. Menendez resigns now.
"All the more so because the Senator is up for re-election in 2024, and his party's hold on the seat could be in jeopardy if he's the Democratic nominee. Sure enough, New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim announced on the weekend that he'll challenge Mr. Menendez in the Democratic primary next year."
The journal pointed out that the last time Menendez was indicted, Democrats "rallied to his side."
"Democrats can be ruthless when power is at stake, and now the Senator is expendable," the newspaper said.
"As Mr. Menendez said, the facts in the indictment are the prosecution's side of the story, and he deserves a chance to tell his in court.
"He claimed that he is being persecuted because some 'simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator.'
"Mr. Menendez's problem isn't his ethnicity. It's the gold bars, the cash, and the Mercedes Benz that prosecutors say was payment in an alleged quid pro quo for using his office to 'protect and enrich' three New Jersey businessmen," the newspaper added. "But he shouldn't have to resign to make life easier for Democrats. He deserves to be judged by a jury or the voters."
Jeffrey Rodack, who has nearly a half century in news as a senior editor and city editor for national and local publications, has covered politics for Newsmax for nearly seven years.
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