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Democratic senator forced to resign amid indictment, corruption allegations


Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was asked to resign by members of his own party following his indictment on federal corruption charges.

Menendez, 69, was charged Friday with bribery, fraud and extortion. Prosecutors say Menendez and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using his power and influence to benefit three New Jersey businessmen and the interests of Egypt.

A growing number of prominent Democrats, including New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, are calling on the senator to immediately resign from the Senate due to the nature of the accusations.

Menendez rejected calls for resignation in an emailed statement to News week Friday night, insisting he’s “not going anywhere.”

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is pictured in Washington, DC, March 30, 2023. Menendez was indicted Friday on federal corruption charges and faces pressure from his own party to resign. He told Newsweek, however, that he was “not going anywhere.”
Anna Moneymaker

“Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,” Menendez said. “I intend to continue fighting for the people of New Jersey with the same success I have enjoyed over the past five decades. It is the same record of success that these same leaders have always touted. “

“I don’t forget how quickly some people rush to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat,” he continued. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Menendez temporarily resigned from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier Friday. However, under Senate Democratic rules, the indictment would have forced Menendez to step down as committee chairman, regardless of his wishes.

Murphy and other prominent Garden State Democrats have argued that the allegations against Menendez are so serious that he will not be able to do his job effectively. The governor called the allegations “deeply disturbing.”

“These are serious charges that call into question national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system,” Murphy said in a statement. “Senator Menendez and the other defendants have not been found guilty and will have the opportunity to present evidence disputing these charges.”

“However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise Senator Menendez’s ability to effectively represent the people of our state,” he added. “This is why I am calling for his immediate resignation.”

New Jersey Democratic Party Chairman LeRoy J. Jones, Jr. also called on the senator to resign, saying in a statement that doing so would be “in the interest of ensuring that the people of New Jersey continue to benefit from the federal representation they deserve.” » and allow Menendez to “focus all his attention on his legal defense”.

U.S. Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey called the allegations “serious and alarming” as he exhorting Menendez resigned in his own statement, questioning the senator’s “ability to properly focus” on his job amid the legal battle.

Other prominent New Jersey Democrats who have called for Menendez’s resignation include state General Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, state Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Democratic Party Chairman Middlesex County, Kevin McCabe, and Bergen County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Juliano.

Menendez has faced corruption allegations for many years. He was previously indicted in 2015 for conspiracy and corruption offenses. Charges against the senator were dropped after his trial ended before a hung jury in 2017.

The senator referenced his previous accusations in a statement obtained by News week earlier Friday, while asserting that the new indictment was part of an “active campaign of smear of anonymous sources and innuendo intended to create an air of impropriety where none exists.”

“I have already been falsely accused because I refused to back down from the powers that be and the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors and recognize that I was innocent,” he said. -he declares. “I am confident that this matter will be successfully resolved once all the facts are presented and my fellow New Jerseyans see the situation for what it is.”

Menendez’s hypothetical resignation would at least temporarily complicate Democrats’ already loosened grip on the Senate, although Murphy would almost certainly appoint another Democrat to replace him on an interim basis at short notice.

Menendez’s Senate seat will be contested in next year’s elections, when Democrats will struggle to maintain control of the chamber. Menendez has not officially announced his 2024 candidacy.



newsweek-bbc

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