On Monday, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) became the second and third Democratic senators to call for the resignation of their peer, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), after federal prosecutors indicted him on corruption charges last week.
In a 39-page indictment, federal prosecutors in New York accused Menendez and his wife of accepting bribes — including cash, a luxury vehicle and gold bars — from three businessmen to push forward the agenda of the Egyptian government.
On Monday, Brown became the second Democratic senator to condemn Menendez, following Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.).
“Senator Menendez has broken the public trust and should resign from the U.S. Senate,” Brown said in a one-sentence statement.
Welch’s statement followed.
“Senator Menendez is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But the people of New Jersey and the United States Senate are entitled to an effective Senator. The shocking and specific allegations against Senator Menendez have wholly compromised his capacity to be that effective Senator,” he said. “I encourage Senator Menendez to resign.”
A spokesperson for Fetterman, the first Democratic senator to push for Menendez’s resignation, said on Monday that he would return Menendez’s $5,000 campaign donation.
“He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence, but he cannot continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations,” Fetterman wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday. “I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial.”
At a Monday press conference, Menendez said that the lawmakers urging him to resign “have rushed to judgment ... on a limited set of facts.” He added: “I will be exonerated and continue to be the senior senator from New Jersey.”
Menendez was previously indicted in 2015 after being accused of accepting bribes from a Florida doctor, but the trial concluded with a hung jury, and the judge dismissed the case in 2017.