Booker says Menendez should step down

By: - September 26, 2023 11:47 am

Sen. Cory Booker broke a days-long silence to urge U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez to resign following a second corruption indictment. (Courtesy of Sen. Menendez's office)

Sen. Cory Booker called on fellow Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez to resign Tuesday, days after Menendez was indicted on corruption charges for the second time.

Booker had been the most high-profile Democrat in the state not to comment on Menendez’s indictment or call on him to resign. But in a lengthy statement issued Tuesday morning, Booker said Menendez’s resignation would be “best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”

“Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve. And in this case he must do so again,” Booker said.

On Friday, federal authorities unveiled an indictment alleging Menendez traded official favors for cash, gold bars, and a Mercedez-Benz. Menendez has denied any wrongdoing.

Booker joins a host of other Democrats, including more than two dozen U.S. senators, who have urged Menendez to step down. Gov. Phil Murphy, legislative leaders in both chambers, most of the state’s House delegation, and more than half of New Jersey’s Democratic county chairs have also asked Menendez to resign.

Menendez urged to step down by a growing number of U.S. Senate Democrats

Like others, Booker said Menendez deserves the presumption of innocence but said the allegations against him are serious enough to warrant a resignation.

“As Senators, we operate in the public trust. That trust is essential to our ability to do our work and perform our duties for our constituents,” Booker said. “The details of the allegations against Senator Menendez are of such a nature that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans as well as those he must work with in order to be effective have been shaken to the core.”

In an address to reporters Monday, Menendez said he expects to be exonerated and to remain the state’s senior senator. He largely did not address the substance of federal prosecutors’ allegations, though he explained the hundreds of thousands of dollars investigators found in his house by citing a history of confiscation in Cuba. Menendez is the son of Cuban immigrants.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.

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