A mounting number of Senate Democrats are urging Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey to step down in the wake of a federal grand jury's far-reaching indictment against

him. The indictment, which included bribery charges, was announced late last week, leading to increased calls for Menendez's resignation.

As the Senate reconvened in Washington on Tuesday for the first time since Menendez, a Democrat, was indicted, many Senate Democrats initially hesitated to respond. However, a significant portion of them are now advocating for Menendez's departure.

Among the prominent voices is Menendez's fellow New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker. While Booker acknowledged that the allegations against Menendez are challenging to reconcile with the individual he knows, he believes that Menendez should relinquish his Senate seat. Booker emphasized that stepping down does not imply guilt but is a recognition of the considerable sacrifices and responsibilities that come with public office, which Menendez has dedicated his life to. He expressed his belief that this step is in the best interest of those whom Senator Menendez has served.

Menendez, along with his wife Nadine, stands accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using his influence to benefit three businessmen: Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daides. The alleged bribes included gold bars, a luxury convertible car, home mortgage payments, and more. Menendez vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania was the first Senate Democrat to call for Menendez's resignation. In a statement, Fetterman noted that while Menendez deserves the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, he should not continue to wield influence over national policy, given the serious and specific nature of the allegations.

Menendez responded to these calls for his resignation during a press conference on Monday. While defending himself against what he described as "sensational" allegations in the indictment, Menendez urged his fellow lawmakers to exercise patience as he defends himself in court. He emphasized the principle of presumption of innocence and urged people to allow the facts to be presented in a legal setting.

However, many of his fellow Democratic senators remained unsympathetic to his plea.

Since Menendez's statement, several more Senate Democrats have joined Fetterman in demanding his resignation. Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Sherrod Brown of Ohio both expressed their belief that Menendez violated the public's trust and should step down.

Notably, some of the senators calling for Menendez's resignation are up for re-election in 2024, making their statements particularly significant. While Menendez has not yet announced whether he intends to run for re-election, those calling for his resignation include senators who will also appear on the ballot next November.

Senator Jon Tester's call for resignation was noteworthy, especially because he holds a seat in Montana, which is considered challenging for Democrats to retain in a predominantly red state. Tester expressed deep concern over the detailed charges against Menendez and asserted that the senator should resign for the sake of the public's faith in the U.S. Senate.

Menendez temporarily stepped away from his role as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee amid the allegations. This marks the second time he has faced corruption charges, with the previous indictment resulting in a mistrial in 2018, where he was acquitted on some charges after a jury failed to reach a verdict on all counts. Photo by United States Senate, Wikimedia commons.