More than two dozen Senate Democrats have called on Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign from office since he was indicted on federal bribery and corruption charges last week.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) even publicly called for an ethics investigation into his alleged conduct if the embattled senator refuses to step down.
“If Senator Menendez refuses to resign, I encourage the Senate Ethics Committee to open an investigation into this, separate from the ongoing criminal case,” Murray said in a Wednesday statement.
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has signaled from the start that he wouldn’t necessarily push for the now-twice indicted senator’s resignation.
Last week, Schumer announced that Menendez had “rightly decided” to step away from his committee chairmanship. On Tuesday, Schumer said he was “deeply disappointed” by the indictment. He called the allegations “truly upsetting” but did not join his colleagues in encouraging Menendez to leave Congress.
“For Senators, there’s a much, much higher standard. And clearly, when you read the indictment, Senator Menendez fell way, way below that standard,” Schumer told reporters during his weekly press conference. “Tomorrow, he will address the Democratic caucus, and we’ll see what happens after that.”
When pressed on if Menendez should resign, Schumer repeated the same line.
Menendez is facing three counts in a Manhattan federal indictment. The senator and his wife Nadine have been accused of allegedly taking gold bars, furniture, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, cash, and other favors from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for official acts, according to the indictment.
Those official acts allegedly included transferring sensitive government information to the government of Egypt, trying to thwart state and federal criminal investigations of his associates, among other things.
Menendez pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday.