Menendez to address U.S. Senate Democrats Thursday about his indictment

By: - September 27, 2023 4:30 pm

Sen. Bob Menendez leaves the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse in Manhattan after pleading not guilty to federal corruption charges on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (Aristide Economopoulos for New Jersey Monitor)

WASHINGTON — New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez will address his Democratic colleagues in a closed-door meeting Thursday amid growing calls for him to resign following a federal indictment.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that he was “deeply disappointed, disturbed” after reading the indictment, which charged Menendez with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under the color of official right.

“Look, I’ve known Sen. Menendez a very long time and it was truly, truly upsetting,” Schumer said. “But we all know that for senators there’s a much, much higher standard. And clearly when you read the indictment, Sen. Menendez fell way, way below that standard. Tomorrow he will address the Democratic caucus and we’ll see what happens after that.”


Menendez pleaded not guilty to bribery and corruption charges in a New York federal courthouse Wednesday morning, the New Jersey Monitor reported. He was released on a $100,000 bond and had to surrender his personal passport, though he can still travel abroad on official government business. He is also barred from contacting any co-defendants except his wife, Nadine.

Senate Democrats call for resignation

After the indictment became public Friday, Menendez temporarily stepped aside from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

At first only Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. John Fetterman called for Menendez to resign from the Senate, but the number of Senate Democrats telling him to leave office climbed significantly this week.

Colorado senators join call for New Jersey’s Menendez to step down

Nearly 30 Senate Democrats had called for Menendez to resign as of Wednesday afternoon, including Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper of Colorado.

Washington state Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who is also Senate president pro tempore, said Wednesday if Menendez doesn’t resign, the Senate Ethics Committee should begin an investigation.

“The charges against Senator Menendez are extremely serious and the details released are deeply disturbing — while Senator Menendez is entitled to his day in court, I believe he should step down and focus on his legal defense,” Murray said.

Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Wednesday that while Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, he should no longer hold the title of U.S. senator.

“Having served with Senator Menendez in the Senate, I have seen his hard work on behalf of the people of New Jersey,” Van Hollen said.

“Now, as he faces serious, specific, and deeply concerning criminal charges, he is entitled to the presumption of innocence and due process,” Van Hollen said. “However, as a public servant, he has a duty to uphold the standard of public trust and to protect the integrity of the institution of the Senate and, for those reasons, it is best that he step down.”


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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.