Two more Democratic senators call on Bob Menendez to resign

The new calls for the New Jersey Democrat's resignation came hours after he made his first public remarks since he was charged with bribery. He indicated he wouldn't resign.


Two Democratic senators called for Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., to resign Monday, joining a growing chorus of lawmakers urging him to step down amid federal corruption charges.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio — chairman of the Banking Committee, where Menendez chairs a subcommittee — and Sen. Peter Welch of Vermont called on Menendez to leave Congress. Over the weekend, Sen. John Fetterman of neighboring Pennsylvania became the first Senate Democrat to say he should resign.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also said Monday night that Menendez should step aside.

"It'd probably be a good idea if he did resign," Pelosi, the former House speaker, said on MSNBC's "Inside with Jen Psaki," calling the charges "formidable."

The new calls for Menendez to resign followed his first public remarks after an indictment against him and his wife, Nadine, was unsealed Friday.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference Monday in Union City, New Jersey, where he once was mayor, Menendez said, "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, who indicated he would not resign, also offered an explanation for the $480,000 in cash prosecutors said was found in his New Jersey home, “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe.”

Menendez maintained that the money was his and that it had been earned legitimately.

“For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba,” he said. “These were moneys drawn from my personal savings account based on the income I have lawfully derived over those 30 years.”

The indictment said some of the envelopes “contained the fingerprints and/or DNA” of one of the people charged with bribing Menendez or that person’s driver. Menendez did not address that claim in his remarks and did not take questions from reporters, but he said he should be presumed innocent.

"The allegations against me are just that — allegations," he said.

He asked his congressional colleagues “to pause and allow for all the facts to be presented.”

“The court of public opinion is no substitute for our revered justice system. We cannot set aside the presumption of innocence for political expediency when the harm is irrevocable," he said.

“Prosecutors get it wrong sometimes,” he said.

It is unclear which family members Menendez was referring to in his comments about the cash or whether their property had been confiscated. While the Cuban government began confiscating some property in 1959 after the revolution, Menendez’s parents came to the U.S. years earlier, and he was born here in 1954.

His office did not immediately respond to a request for clarification of his remarks.

Menendez's remarks did not sway Brown and Welch against calling for him to step down.

“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,” Welch wrote Monday night on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that the allegations “wholly compromised” his capacity to serve effectively.

“I encourage Senator Menendez to resign,” he added.

A few hours earlier, Brown said in a statement that "Menendez has broken the public trust and should resign from the U.S. Senate."

Fetterman also appeared unmoved by Menendez’s defense, particularly his “emergencies” explanation for the large amount of cash in his house. Referring to his comments in a post on X, Fetterman wrote, “We have an extra flashlight for our home emergencies.”

Fetterman’s team also confirmed a report in The Messenger that it is returning $5,000 in donations Menendez gave to his 2022 campaign. “We are in the process of returning the money,” Fetterman spokesman Joe Calvello told NBC News, “in envelopes stuffed with $100 bills.”

Many House Democrats and Democratic officials in New Jersey, including Gov. Phil Murphy, have called on Menendez to resign.

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., announced Saturday that he would challenge Menendez for his seat. “Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better,” Kim wrote on X.

Menendez and his wife were indicted Friday on charges that include conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion. The indictment alleges they received bribes, included “cash, gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value.”

Federal investigators who search their home with a warrant found the more than $480,000 in cash and other allegedly ill-gotten gains that they claim were used to bribe Menendez, including a Mercedes-Benz, exercise equipment, home furnishings and "over one hundred thousand dollars' worth of gold bars," the indictment said.

Senators, aside from top leaders, make $174,000 a year.

Menendez has denied any wrongdoing, and he suggested in a statement Friday night that he is being targeted because of his heritage.

“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere,” he said.