Four days after indictment, Booker issues statement calling for Menendez to resign

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who has worked closely with his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Bob Menendez, issued a statement on Tuesday calling for Menendez to resign.

Booker (D-N.J.), whose statement comes four days after Menendez (D-N.J.) and his wife were federally indicted by a grand jury on bribery charges, joined nearly a dozen other Senate Democrats who called for Menendez to step aside Tuesday. Just one Democratic senator, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, had called for his resignation over the weekend.

“As Sen. Menendez prepares to mount his legal defense, he has stated that he will not resign. Sen. Menendez fiercely asserts his innocence, and it is therefore understandable that he believes stepping down is patently unfair. But I believe this is a mistake,” Booker said. “Stepping down is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. Sen. 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 Sen. Menendez has spent his life serving.”

Menendez, who is expected to appear in court Wednesday, has asked his colleagues to wait for the case to play out before reaching conclusions.

The charges against Menendez are startling.

This past Friday, the Justice Department charged that Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, along with New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes and associates Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, enjoyed a “corrupt relationship” in which they accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from at least 2018 up until about 2022.

The indictment details that the feds have seized $100,000 worth of gold bars and more than $480,000 in cash, mostly stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe at their home and bank.

Menendez and his wife are charged with three counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.

Menendez said he plans to be in Washington this week. In a statement to reporters, he said he expected to be exonerated after a trial and that he expected to remain the state’s senior senator.