Senate Democrats turn on Menendez — even Cory Booker

Senate Democrats turn on Menendez — even Cory Booker

The dam is breaking: A torrent of Democratic senators are now calling for the resignation of Sen. Bob Menendez, led by his longtime home-state ally Sen. Cory Booker and a group of swing-state Democrats up for reelection in 2024.

More than a dozen Democratic senators joined Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman in pushing Menendez to step down from Congress, citing the federal conspiracy charges against him. Menendez has denied wrongdoing but stayed silent on whether he plans to keep running for reelection next year — and fellow Democrats’ calls for him to focus on his legal defense suggests that pressure will keep mounting behind the scenes.

Fetterman was followed Monday night by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.). On Tuesday, Booker joined a bevy of fellow Democrats from across the conference in urging a resignation.

“Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost,” Booker said in a statement. “Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve. And in this case he must do so again. I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”

Menendez is also starting to lose the cushion he had from Senate Democrats’ elected leaders, who had not yet joined the long line of resignation calls. But after leadership member Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) declined to push for his exit on Tuesday morning, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) joined the list of those urging Menendez to depart.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is slated to hold his weekly leadership meeting on Tuesday afternoon and is likely to get questions on Menendez at that point, ahead of the Senate’s first votes of the week. Schumer, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have so far stayed silent on Menendez.

It’s no accident that vulnerable Democrats up for reelection next year — like Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Jon Tester (Montana), Bob Casey (Pa.) and Jacky Rosen (Nev.) — were among the first to seek distance from Menendez on the campaign trail. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.) will also face voters in 2024, though their seats are much safer.

The logic behind Welch and Fetterman turning on Menendez first is different: They are first-term progressives with little allegiance to the New Jersey senator.

Refresher: At a press conference Monday, Menendez offered no indication that he plans to resign but also stayed mum on his political future. At least one New Jersey Democrat, Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) has already announced he will run for the Senate seat in 2024.

Menendez and his wife were indicted on conspiracy charges unsealed Friday, alleged to have accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes that were offered in a bid to sway his official position on the Foreign Relations Committee to the benefit of the Egyptian government.

Where we’re hearing crickets: So far, Senate Republicans have been relatively mum on Menendez. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) did tweet on Tuesday morning that Menendez should “be judged by jurors and New Jersey’s voters, not by Democratic politicians who now view him as inconvenient to their hold on power.”

Go to Source