Senator Robert Menendez told Senate Democrats during a private lunch on Thursday, September 28, 2023, that he will not resign from his seat, despite more than half of them calling for him to do so.
Menendez told his Democratic colleagues that he would not resign after facing federal corruption and bribery charges. There is doubt that he will stand the pressure he is facing from fellow Senate Democrats who want him to leave.
Menendez told reporters after he addressed his caucus during a closed-door lunch meeting that he would not step down from his Senate seat. He said that he will continue casting votes on behalf of the people of New Jersey.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and other key House Democrats and top party leaders in Trenton all called for him to resign, on top of those in his conference.
However, some senators said that Menendez did not prove to be persuasive to some who have already called for him to step aside from the upper chamber for example Sen. Richard Blumenthal told reporters that he does not anticipate speaking to Menendez face-to-face about the situation.
“Certainly, I’m not of a different mind now,” Blumenthal said.
The New Jersey Democrat is facing major headwinds from within his caucus as calls for his resignation have spanned the gamut, including leadership, influential progressives and moderates.
Sen. John Fetterman, who was the first member to ask him to resign, said that he would back a resolution to expel Menendez from the upper chamber.
More than half of the Democratic caucus insist that the longtime lawmaker must step down. Democrats provided limited comments after leaving the meeting.
Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. John Fetterman, the first Democratic senator to call for Menendez’s resignation, did not attend the lunch meeting with his colleagues.
“I’m not interested in some kind of explanation on why he has gold bars in his mattress or anything like that,” Fetterman told reporters.
When asked if he would consider a resolution that would expel Menendez, Fetterman said that he would pursue expulsion if it is a viable path.
“Now that it’s confirmed that he’s not going to go the honourable way, I would like to pursue whatever avenues are available,” he said.
Prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife accepted bribes of cash, gold, mortgage payments and a Mercedes-Benz to benefit the Egyptian government.
He is also accused of interfering with a New Jersey attorney general’s investigation of a relative of a New Jersey businessman who is a co-defendant in the indictment as well as attempting to influence the federal prosecution of another Garden State businessman, another co-defendant.
Menendez has repeatedly defended himself, saying that those who have called for his resignation have based judgements on a limited set of facts. The indictment marks the second time Menendez has been indicted in the last 10 years. He declined to comment to reporters when entering and exiting the lunch.
The relationship between Menendez and Bobi Wine was strengthened when the Senator called for the release of Bobi Wine who had been arrested in 2018, on treason charges