Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is under pressure to resign from office after he was indicted on bribery charges Friday.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy leads the chorus of voices, which also includes several congressmen from the state and a growing list of Democratic senators.
Prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes to assist three New Jersey businessmen and interests in Egypt. The FBI found nearly $500,000 in cash and more than $100,000 in gold at Menendez’s home in a raid last year, allegedly payment for the bribes.
He has denied the allegations, calling them a “smear campaign.” The senator has stepped down from his seat as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he said he will fight the charges and remain New Jersey’s senior senator.
These are these Democrats who have called on Menendez to resign:
Sen. John Fetterman (Pa.)
Fetterman was the first senator, from either party, to come out against Menendez. He released a brief statement Saturday.
“Senator Menendez should resign,” Fetterman said. “He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system, but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations.”
“I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial,” he added.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Brown on Monday became the second Senate Democrat to call on Menendez to resign.
“Senator Menendez has broken the public trust and should resign from the U.S. Senate,” Brown said in a statement.
Sen. Peter Welch (Vt.)
Welch called for Menendez to resign from his position in a statement Monday evening.
“Senator Menendez is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” Welch wrote Monday in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “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,” Welch added. “I encourage Senator Menendez to resign.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)
Baldwin was the first of multiple senators to issue statements calling for her Democratic colleague to resign Tuesday morning.
“The indictment spells out deeply troubling allegations against Senator Menendez that breach the American people’s trust and compromise his ability to effectively represent his constituents,” Baldwin said in a statement.
“While Senator Menendez enjoys the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and will have his day in court to defend himself, I believe it’s best for his constituents, the American people, and our national security for the Senator to step down.”
Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.)
Tester released a short statement soon after Baldwin Tuesday morning.
“I’ve read the detailed charges against Senator Menendez and find them deeply disturbing. While he deserves a fair trial like every other American, I believe Senator Menendez should resign for the sake of the public’s faith in the U.S. Senate,” he wrote.
Sen. Bob Casey (Pa.)
And Casey released a statement soon after that.
“Public service is a sacred trust,” he wrote. “The specific allegations set forth in the federal indictment indicate to me that Senator Menendez violated that trust repeatedly. While he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, serving in public office is a privilege that demands a higher standard of conduct. Senator Menendez should resign.”
Sen. Jacky Rosen (Nev.)
Rosen became the fourth senator Tuesday morning to call on Menendez to step down.
“The well-documented political corruption charges are a violation of the public trust, and Senator Menendez should resign,” she said in a statement. “While he is entitled to due process and a fair trial, this is a distraction that undermines the bipartisan work we need to do in the Senate for the American people.”
Sen. Mark Kelly (Ariz.)
In a statement Tuesday, Kelly called for Menendez to step down and called the allegations “serious and alarming.”
“Senator Menendez has the same constitutional rights and presumption of innocence as any other American,” Kelly said in a statement Tuesday. “However, serving as a U.S. Senator is a position of public trust. These are serious and alarming allegations of corruption and bribery involving his service in the United States Senate.
“That’s a breach of that trust and a burden I believe will prevent him from fully serving. He should resign,” Kelly added.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)
Warren told the Boston Globe that it was time for Menendez to go.
“Yes,” she reportedly said when asked if Menendez should resign. “These are serious charges, and it’s time for Sen. Menendez to step away from the Senate and concentrate on his legal defense.”
Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.)
Longtime Menendez ally and friend Booker joined the list of senators Tuesday calling for him to resign, arguing that it was not an admission of guilt.
“As Senator Menendez prepares to mount his legal defense, he has stated that he will not resign. Senator Menendez fiercely asserts his innocence and it is therefore understandable that he believes stepping down is patently unfair,” Booker said. “But I believe this is a mistake.”
“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,” he continued. “I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
Markey was among a number of senators who started tweeting their calls for Menendez to resign later on Tuesday.
“The public’s trust has been broken. Senator Menendez should resign,” he wrote.
Sen. Michael Bennett (Colo.)
“As with all Americans, Senator Menendez must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and will face his day in court. The nature of these charges erodes public trust in Congress. No one is entitled to serve in the U.S. Senate, and he should step aside,” Bennett tweeted.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.)
“The charges against Senator Menendez are serious and very troubling. While he deserves a fair trial, his constituents and our nation deserve a senator solely focused on delivering for the good of our country. Senator Menendez should step aside,” Heinrich wrote on X.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)
“I urge Senator Menendez to resign. He is entitled to equal justice under the law just as every American is, but he is not entitled to a Senate seat,” Hassan wrote on X.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
“As Senators, we serve in positions of public trust. While Senator Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, the heart of the allegations erodes public trust,” Hirono tweeted.
“As such, I believe he should step down.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Klobuchar said that while she does not believe Menendez will resign, he should, according to Star Tribune reporter Hunter Woodall.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Gillibrand joined the calls for Menendez to resign in a press conference, according to a tweet from WNYC reporter Brigid Bergin.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.)
Warnock issued a statement shortly after 1 p.m. “The covenant we have with the American people is sacred, and ensuring the public we work for them and not other interests is paramount. Senator Menendez should step aside and resign,” he wrote on X.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Blumenthal told reporters Tuesday he believes Menendez should resign, while noting the New Jersey lawmaker is “entitled to a presumption of innocence and a fair trial just like any criminal defendant.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Murphy, the chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East, joined the calls for resignation on Tuesday. He also said an inquiry needs to be launched into Egypt’s behavior toward the committee.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
Duckworth, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told reporters Tuesday, “I’ve already said that because of how egregious the charges are, it probably behooves him to step down in order to mount his defense.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Stabenow, the chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and No. 3 Senate Democrat, said in a statement Tuesday evening that “The allegations against Senator Bob Menendez are very concerning. While he deserves his presumption of innocence, I believe it’s best for him to step down from the U.S. Senate.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Durbin, the No. 2-ranking Senate Democrat, on Wednesday wrote on X that “Leaders in New Jersey, including the Governor and my Senate colleague Cory Booker, have made it clear that Sen. Menendez can no longer serve. He should step down.”
Sen. Patty Murray (Was.)
Murray, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined the chorus of calls for Menendez’s resignation Wednesday. She also went a step farther, calling on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate her colleague if he refuses to step down, which he so far has.
“The charges against Senator Menendez are extremely serious and the details released are deeply disturbing — while Senator Menendez is entitled to his day in court, I believe he should step down and focus on his legal defense,” Murray said on X on Wednesday.
Rep. Andy Kim (N.J.)
Kim was the first New Jersey Democrat to go after Menendez. The third-term congressman, who represents Trenton and central New Jersey, said the senator should focus on his legal case and not representing the Garden State.
“These allegations are serious and alarming. It doesn’t matter what your job title is or your politics — no one in America is above the law,” Kim said in a statement to The Hill. “The people of New Jersey absolutely need to know the truth of what happened, and I hope the judicial system works thoroughly and quickly to bring this truth to light.”
“In the meantime, I don’t have confidence that the Senator has the ability to properly focus on our state and its people while addressing such a significant legal matter,” he continued. “He should step down.”
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (N.J.)
Sherrill represents New Jersey’s 11th District, near New York City.
“These are serious allegations against Senator Menendez and if proven true, there is no room for this kind of conduct in public service,” she said on X. “Today is a sad day for New Jersey and I believe it’s in the best interest of our state that Senator Menendez resign.”
Former Rep. Tom Malinowski (N.J.)
Malinowski represented northern New Jersey in Congress for two terms but lost reelection to a Republican in 2022.
“As a legal matter, Senator Menendez deserves the presumption of innocence,” he said on X.
“But as a moral matter, how can we ask Americans to vote against an indicted Trump, but for an indicted Democratic Senator, especially with evidence this damning? I believe Senator Menendez should resign,” he continued.
Malinowski also speculated that Menendez’s alleged relationship with Egypt may have impacted legislation he got passed in the House.
“When I was in Congress, I got several tough-on-Egypt provisions into House-passed defense bills, which were then stripped in the Senate. I still don’t know why,” he said. “But the idea that the chairman of the SFRC [Senate Foreign Relations Committee] may then have been in a corrupt relationship with Egypt is horrifying.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell (N.J.)
Pascrell represents New Jersey’s 9th District, near New York City.
“This is a sad day for our great state. The hallmark of our justice system is the presumption of innocence and the senator deserves his day in court,” he said in a statement. “But given the gravity of these charges, I do not believe that Senator Menendez can continue to carry out the important duties of his office for our state.”
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.)
Pallone represents northern New Jersey. He is also the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Senator Menendez is entitled to his day in court but it’s very difficult to see how he can continue his service in the midst of these charges,” he said in a statement. “He should resign in the best interest of our state.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.)
Gottheimer represents northern New Jersey. He co-chairs the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus of moderate representatives.
“Senator Bob Menendez has been a critical voice and a tough fighter for New Jersey, with a strong record that includes gun safety, protecting our environment and a woman’s right to choose, and fighting racism and antisemitism,” Gottheimer said in a statement Saturday.
“I believe the Senator deserves his day in court, with a presumption of innocence. That said, given the gravity of the allegations, I believe it will be difficult for the Senator to carry out his responsibilities. For the good of the state, he should step aside as he focuses on his defense,” he continued.
House candidate Sue Altman (N.J.)
Altman is a candidate for New Jersey’s 7th District held by Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R) and formerly held by Malinowski.
“As someone who has spent my career fighting corruption in New Jersey, the allegations against Senator Menendez are extremely concerning and the evidence presented in the indictment is both extensive and damning,” she said in a statement.
“At a time when one party is attacking democracy and the rule of law, Democrats have a responsibility to uphold those values. Sen. Menendez should resign,” she said.
Rep. Dean Phillips (Minn.)
Phillips was the first Democrat to call on Menendez to resign, making the comments just hours after the charges were announced in a CNN interview.
“Yes, I am a Democrat and so is Sen. Menendez, but based on what I have seen, I am disappointed and yes, I think he should resign,” Phillips said in the interview.
Phillips argued that Democratic leadership should pressure Menendez out of office in order for the party to save face.
“Look, I am trying to restore faith in government; that’s one of my missions. It’s a lot of my colleagues’ missions, and sometimes we have to walk that talk, even if it’s uncomfortable. And I would argue that this time, yes, the answer is absolutely,” he said.
Rep. Jeff Jackson (N.C.)
Jackson compared Menendez’s case to that of Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) who was indicted on money laundering and fraud charges in May. Despite widespread calls for him to resign, Santos remains in office and announced he will run for reelection in 2024.
“I called on Rep. Santos to resign when he was indicted because I read the indictment and, at minimum, it detailed highly unethical behavior. The same standard must apply to Sen. Menendez,” Jackson said on X. “The indictment, at minimum, details behavior far below acceptable standards for a U.S. Senator. He should resign.”
Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.)
Aguilar, the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House, added to calls for Menendez’s resignation on Wednesday.
“I think Sen. Menendez, just like every American, is due the opportunity to have a fair trial. He has an incredible track record of over 50 years of service to folks in New Jersey. He’s lifted up issues that the Latino community cares about time and time again,” Aguilar said in a press conference. “It doesn’t bring me or any of us joy to say that he should resign. I think he should, for the betterment of the Democratic Party, for the people in New Jersey. It’s better that he fights this trial outside of the halls of Congress.”
Aguilar, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, also pushed back on Menendez’s claims that he was being targeted because of his race. Menendez cited his Latino heritage when defending himself from resignation calls Friday.
“I’d also say that Latinos face barriers and discrimination across the board in so many categories, including our justice system. This is not that,” Aguilar said. “What we read in the indictment and the charges, we should not conflate with discrimination and the issues and the barriers that Latinos have in the justice system and across industries. What we see today is the struggle that Latinos face and the barriers that they face in so many ways, but it would be best if he resigned.”
New Jersey officials
Gov. Phil Murphy
Murphy would select Menendez’s replacement if he were to resign. Menendez’s current term ends in January 2025.
“The allegations in the indictment against Senator Menendez and four other defendants are deeply disturbing. These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system,” Murphy said in a statement.
The governor emphasized that although Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, the gravity of the charges alone hurts his ability to do his job.
“However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation,” he continued.
State Democratic Party Chairman LeRoy Jones
Jones, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, also added to Democratic pressure against Menendez late Friday. He cited the need to protect party seats in upcoming state Legislature elections in November.
“The allegations contained in the indictment that was unsealed today, if they are proven to be true, are incredibly serious and raise disturbing questions,” Jones wrote in a statement.
“In the interest of ensuring that New Jerseyans continue to be granted the federal representation that they deserve, and to make sure that our party is able to keep its focus on the critical upcoming state legislative session in November, I believe that the best course of action is for Senator Menendez to resign so that he can focus his full attention on his legal defense,” he continued.
New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin
Coughlin released a statement calling for the resignation alongside Murphy late Friday.
“The charges laid out against Senator Menendez today go against everything we should believe as public servants,” Coughlin wrote in a statement. “We are given the public trust, and once that trust is broke, we cannot continue.”
“Though I know that this indictment is an accusation, not a conviction, and I know the Senator has a right to defend himself from these charges, I believe Senator Menendez must immediately step down and allow New Jersey, and America, to move forward,” he continued.
Updated Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 1:04 p.m.