Warren, Markey join calls for Menendez to resign following corruption charges

Sen. Bob Menendez speaks during a press conference on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023, in Union City, N.J. Menendez and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery. (Andres Kudacki/AP)
Sen. Bob Menendez speaks during a press conference on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023, in Union City, N.J. Menendez and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery. (Andres Kudacki/AP)

Both Massachusetts senators have called for New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez to resign, joining a growing caucus among upper chamber Democrats in demanding their colleague's ouster following federal bribery and corruption charges.

"The public’s trust has been broken. Senator Menendez should resign," Markey wrote on X, the website formerly called Twitter.

Asked Tuesday by Boston Globe Senior Opinion Writer and WBUR On Point guest host Kimberly Atkins Stohr, Warren said it was time for Menendez to go.

"Yes. These are serious charges, and it's time for Sen. Menendez to step away from the Senate and concentrate on his legal defense," she said.

Fellow New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has also demanded that Menendez leave his post, saying in a statement that the federal bribery charges unveiled on Friday against his fellow New Jersey Democrat contain ”shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing.”

Menendez has firmly rejected calls for him to step down.

A former chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez and his wife Nadine were indicted on Friday, accused of using his position to aid the authoritarian government of Egypt and to pressure federal prosecutors to drop a case against a friend. The three-count indictment says they were paid bribes — gold bars, a luxury car and cash — by three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for corrupt acts.

Menendez has denied any wrongdoing, saying he merely performed as any senator would and that the nearly half million dollars in cash found in his home was from personal savings and kept at hand for emergencies.

Menendez has so far been defiant in the face of criticism from his colleagues, as he was after he first faced federal bribery charges eight years ago — a case that ended with a deadlocked jury. He has again stepped down as chairman of the Foreign Affairs panel, as per Senate Democratic caucus rules, but has otherwise made clear that he’s not going anywhere.

“I recognize this will be the biggest fight yet, but as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” Menendez said on Monday at Hudson County Community College’s campus in Union City, where he grew up.

The calls for his resignation are in sharp contrast, though, to his first case. And Booker’s call is especially significant in the clubby Senate, where home state colleagues tend to stay away from public criticism of each other. It also puts increased pressure on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic leaders who have so far stopped short of recommending that Menendez step down.

Booker said it is a “mistake” for Menendez to say that stepping down would be unfair as the case has not been tried.

″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,” Booker said, adding that he believes resigning would not be an admission of guilt.

Beyond Markey, Warren and Booker, Democratic senators calling for Menendez to step down on Monday and Tuesday included Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Jon Tester of Montana, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Democratic Sens. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, Peter Welch of Vermont and Sherrod Brown of Ohio all called for his resignation over the weekend. The number of calls from the Senate Democratic caucus was expected to grow on Tuesday evening as senators are scheduled to return to the Capitol for votes.

Menendez has not yet said whether he will run for re-election next year. If he does, he will face at least one challenger in a primary: Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who announced over the weekend that he will run for the Senate because of the charges against the state’s senior senator.


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