New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez says he won't resign

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Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on Friday rejected calls for him to resign from Congress, saying he plans to fight charges that include allegations of bribery and corruption.

"Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty. I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades," Menendez said in a statement.

"This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along. 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 added.

The senator's statement comes in response to a growing number of Democrats in New Jersey and on Capitol Hill calling for him to step down after a federal indictment against him and his wife was unsealed Friday morning.

New Jersey Democrats including Gov. Phil Murphy and members of the state's congressional delegation have said Menendez needs to go.

“Under our legal system, Senator Menendez and the other defendants have not been found guilty and will have the ability to present evidence disputing these charges, and we must respect the process," Murphy said in a statement.

“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 added.

Phil Murphy, governor of New Jersey, speaks during the 2023 State of the State Address at the New Jersey State House in Trenton, New Jersey, US, on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. Murphy proposed expanding the number of liquor licenses in the state and providing shore towns with funding to help upgrade their boardwalks. (Aristide Economopoulos / Bloomberg via Getty Images file)

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., also called on Menendez to step down, saying he lacked "confidence that the Senator has the ability to properly focus on our state and its people while addressing such a significant legal matter.”

Kim’s statement was first reported by the New Jersey Globe.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., said in a tweet that it would be "in the best interest of our state that Senator Menendez resign."

Kim was the second Democrat on Capitol Hill to call for Menendez to step down amid the allegations.

In a CNN interview, Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., said that regardless of political party, a member of Congress who appears to have broken the law should resign, when asked whether Menendez should resign from the Senate.

“There is evidence here. And yes, I’m a Democrat, so is Senator Menendez, but based on what I’ve seen, I’m disappointed. Yes, I think he should resign,” Phillips said.

New Jersey Democratic state committee chairman LeRoy J. Jones Jr. also called on Menendez to resign.

"Senator Menendez should be afforded the same presumption of innocence that the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all Americans. But 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 elections 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," Jones wrote in a statement.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, according to an indictment that was made public Friday.

Menendez allegedly wielded the power of his official position to enrich three New Jersey businessmen and benefit the Egyptian government.

In exchange, the couple received lavish bribes, including “cash, gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value,” prosecutors said.

Menendez dismissed the allegations against him in a statement Friday, arguing that he is facing "an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists" and suggesting that prosecutors have “misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office.”

Menendez is not the first lawmaker this year to face resignation calls stemming from a federal investigation.

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., has faced calls to step down amid a series allegations that he lied and fabricated some of his credentials and biography as he ran for Congress. In May, he pleaded not guilty to a 13-count federal indictment related to wire fraud, money laundering and other charges.

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