Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Friday night he will not heed calls from several Democratic lawmakers, including New Jersey's governor, to resign following his indictment on federal bribery charges earlier in the day.
Menendez and his wife, Nadine, have been accused by prosecutors for the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using the senator's power and influence to protect and enrich a group of New Jersey businesspeople and the government of Egypt.
"Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty," Menendez, who resigned as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement late Friday, according to The Hill. "I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I've had for the past five decades. This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along.
"It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere."
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was the most prominent of several Democratic lawmakers to call for Menendez's resignation Friday.
Murphy said in a news release that Menendez, who was first elected to the Senate in 2006, is innocent until proven guilty, but "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."
Other Democratic lawmakers calling for Menendez's resignation include Reps. Andy Kim, Bill Pascrell Jr., Mikie Sherrill, and Frank Pallone of New Jersey; Dean Phillips of Minnesota; and Jeff Jackson of North Carolina. Also, LeRoy Jones, chair of the New Jersey Democratic Party, and the state Legislature's two top Democrats, Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, have asked Menendez to resign.
"These allegations are serious and alarming. It doesn't matter what your job title is or your politics — no one in America is above the law," Kim said in a statement to The Hill.
Should Menendez, who is up for reelection next year, resign or be forced out of office before his term ends, Murphy would be responsible for picking his replacement.
"In the interest of ensuring that New Jerseyans continue to be granted the federal representation that they deserve and to make sure that our party is able to keep its focus on the critical upcoming state legislative elections in November, I believe that the best course of action is for Sen. Menendez to resign so that he can focus his full attention on his legal defense," said Jones, a longtime Menendez ally, according to the New Jersey Globe.
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.
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