Senator Robert Menendez faces pressure from fellow Democrats to resign

US Senator Robert Menendez faces growing pressure from his fellow Democrats to resign following a federal indictment on bribery charges.

The latest to join the chorus is his fellow New Jersey senator Cory Booker who said “stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving”.

Mr Menendez denies wrongdoing and has so far brushed off calls to resign.

Prosecutors allege he accepted bribes in exchange for political favours.

The Department of Justice indicted Mr Menendez and his wife, Nadine, on Friday on charges of bribery, conspiracy to commit extortion, and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

They allege that Mr Menendez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to benefit three New Jersey businessmen as well as the government of Egypt.

Senator Cory Booker’s statement on Tuesday came as dozens of Democrats called on Mr Menendez to step aside.

Mr Booker posted a lengthy statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying Mr Menendez “deserves our presumption of innocence until proven guilty”.

But, he added, “The details of the allegations against Senator Menendez are of such a nature that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans as well as those he must work with in order to be effective have been shaken to the core.”

Other Senate Democrats struck a similar tone.

“The nature of these charges erodes public trust in Congress,” Michael Bennett of Colorado said in a statement. “No one is entitled to serve in the US Senate, and he should step aside.”

Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia said that Mr Menendez should resign for the “good of public trust in our institutions”.

“I hope he chooses an honourable exit and focuses on his trial,” John Fetterman of Pennsylvania said on Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, stopped short of calling for Mr Menendez’s resignation, saying that the senator “has a right to due process and a fair trial”.

Several Democrats in the House of Representatives joined their Senate colleagues in calling for his ouster, most notably former House speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who said it “would probably be a good idea” for Mr Menendez to resign.

Mr Menendez did step down as chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee after the indictment, but several congressional Democrats have said that his Senate tenure should also come to an end.

His indictment comes after a years-long justice department investigation.

During a search of the senator’s New Jersey home last year, investigators found $480,000 (£393,000) in cash hidden throughout the residence, as well as 13 bars of gold bullion worth an estimated $155,000 (£127,000), prosecutors allege.

The indictment also alleges Mr Menendez and his wife received “payments towards a home mortgage, a low or no show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value”.

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Menendez said that he kept the cash hidden in his home “for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba”.

“When all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” he said.

The senator, his wife, and two businessmen named in the indictment are expected to be arraigned or formally charged in New York on Wednesday. A third businessman charged in the scheme, Wael Hana, was arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty.

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