Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has failed to call for the resignation of newly impeached Sen. Bob Menendez, breaking with the growing number of other Democrats who are publicly calling for their colleague to resign.
On Wednesday, the New Jersey senator pleaded not guilty to federal charges that accused him of accepting bribes in exchange for using his political power to do favors for several businessmen and advance the interests of the Egyptian government support financially.
Menendez temporarily resigned as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after he was impeached, but defiantly refused to resign from the upper chamber of Congress.
However, in recent days, more and more Democrats have expressed the opinion that their colleague should resign from office. As of Wednesday, at least 30 Senate Democrats agreed to resign Menendez — including fellow New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois. Others in the room who have not pushed for his resignation emphasize that Menendez is entitled to the presumption of innocence throughout the duration of his case.
Schumer told reporters On Wednesday he said he was “deeply disappointed” and “disturbed” when he read the indictment against Menendez, but the majority leader declined to call for his resignation.
“I’ve known Sen. Menendez for a long time and it was really, really shocking,” the New York Democrat said. “We all know that senators are held to a much, much higher standard. And when you read the indictment, it is clear that Senator Menendez falls well below that standard.”
Schumer said Menendez will address the Democratic caucus on Thursday, “and we’ll see what happens after that.”
The indictment includes three counts against Menendez. He is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for helping Cairo secure military aid and attempting to interfere in criminal investigations.
Businessmen Jose Uribe, Fred Daibes and Wael Hana also pleaded not guilty.
The indictment represents the second corruption case Menendez has faced in a decade, as jurors failed to reach a verdict in 2017 on various charges.