In a statement noting his close working relationship and friendship with Menendez, Booker said the allegations in last week’s indictment were “hard to reconcile with the person I know.” Nonetheless, he said senators “operate in the public trust,” which he called “essential to our ability to do our work and perform our duties for our constituents.”
“As Senator Menendez prepares to mount his legal defense, he has stated that he will not resign. Senator Menendez fiercely asserts his innocence and it is therefore understandable that he believes stepping down is patently unfair. But I believe this is a mistake,” Booker said. “Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. 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.”
Booker joined nearly a dozen other Senate Democrats who called for Menendez to step aside on Tuesday, with the dam appearing to break in the upper chamber. Just one Democratic senator, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, had called for his resignation over the weekend.
Menendez and his wife are accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes in exchange for using the senator’s power and influence to enrich and protect three New Jersey businessmen and benefit Egypt’s government. He has, and rebuffed calls for his resignation in his first public comments on the case on Monday.
This is a developing story and will be updated.