“It probably would be a good idea if he did resign,” the powerful Democrat told MSNBC’s Jen Psaki.
The senator was indicted in the Southern District of New York last week on charges related to allegations he and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, including gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz and nearly half a million dollars in cash. Prosecutors claim the pair took the valuables in exchange for helping several businessmen and aiding the Egyptian government. He has rejected the allegations.
Pelosi said Monday that the charges appeared “formidable,” adding she respected her colleagues who have urged Menendez to step down. She pointed to Democrats’ stance on accusations against freshman Congressman George Santos (R-N.Y.), noting that if the Democrats were calling for Santos to leave office after being indicted, the same should hold true for one of their own.
— Inside with Jen Psaki (@InsideWithPsaki) September 26, 2023
“If, in fact, we’re going to say that, if you’re indicted, you should resign, we have a situation in the House, as you know, from the state of New York where that would hold, too,” Pelosi said, referencing Santos. “But right now, sadly, because of the challenges that we face, because the skepticism that exists in our country about governance, about this Republican Party that doesn’t believe in governance … we have got to stay focused on that.”
Pelosi’s comments add significant firepower to calls from other Democrats who have urged Menendez to step down. Sens. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) have all said the charges have compromised the lawmaker’s ability to do his job, joining a growing chorus of nearly a dozen House Democrats.
Menendez has so far resisted those calls, saying Monday that his colleagues had “rushed to judgment.” He vowed to stay in office and continue his bid for reelection.
“I will be exonerated and continue to be the senior senator from New Jersey,” he added.