One day after entering a not-guilty plea to federal bribery allegations in a Manhattan court, Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez is scheduled to address the Senate Democratic Caucus on Thursday.
The bribery charge against Menendez, which includes substantial evidence he secretly worked for the Egyptian government, left Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “deeply disappointed” and “disturbed,” he told reporters on September 27.
“I’ve known Senator Menendez for a very long time, and it was truly, truly upsetting,” Mr. Schumer said. “But we all know that … for senators, there’s a much, much higher standard. And clearly, when you read the indictment,
“Tomorrow, he will address the Democratic Caucus and we’ll see what happens after that,” Schumer added.
On Sept. 22, Menendez and his Lebanese wife Nadine were each indicted on three counts of conspiring to commit fraud, extortion, and bribery. The couple allegedly took hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, gold bars, a luxury car, mortgage payments, and other items.
The New Jersey senator allegedly agreed to use “his influence and power and breach his official duty” in exchange for these payoffs in order to help three businesses and achieve the objectives of the Egyptian government.
In a Manhattan feeral court Wednesday, Menendez and his wife plead not guilty to all allegations.
The senior senator from New Jersey, Menendez asserted in a press conference Wednesday, “I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I will still be.”
After a Senate vote on the same day, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) will take over as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from Menendez, who resigned the chair after last week’s indictment.
Numerous Democrats in the Senate and the House are urging Mendendez to resign. On Sept.27, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland joined the chorus of politicians calling for his resignation.
“Sen. Menendez can no longer serve, as stated by New Jersey’s leaders, including the governor and my Senate colleague Cory Booker. On Twitter, Durbin tweeted, “He should resign.”
–Dwight Widaman and wire services