Sen. Cory Booker on Tuesday called on Sen. Bob Menendez, his fellow New Jersey Democrat in the U.S. Senate, to resign in light of a damning federal indictment on corruption allegations filed last week.
“As Senator Menendez prepares for his legal defense, he has stated that he will not resign,” Booker said in a statement. “Senator Menendez strongly maintains his innocence and it is therefore understandable that he considers his resignation to be manifestly unfair. But I think that’s a mistake.”
Booker praised Menendez as a friend and trusted colleague who had a “boundless work ethic” and “deeply compassionate.”
This is the second corruption indictment against Menendez, with an initial trial on the charges brought in 2017 ending in a mistrial.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Senator Menendez is once again committed to mounting a vigorous defense,” Booker said Tuesday. “And I still believe that he, like everyone involved with our criminal justice system, deserves our presumption of innocence until proven guilty. A jury of his peers will make the final decision as to whether he is criminally guilty.”
“However, there is another higher standard for public servants, based not on criminal law but on shared ideals,” he continued. “As senators, we act in the trust of the public. This trust is essential to our ability to do our jobs and fulfill our responsibilities to our constituents.”
Booker now joins other Democrats in the upper chamber — including Sens. John Fetterman, D-Pa., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., John Tester, D-Mont., and Bob Casey, D- Pa., – which have called on Menendez to resign.
On Monday, a defiant Menendez made his first public comments about the prosecution, saying that the nearly $480,000 in cash and gold bars found in his home came from his personal savings account over the years – all money which he claimed was rightfully earned from his career as a politician and legislator.
He said he would not resign but acknowledged the upcoming legal battle would be tough. After the trial concluded, he promised, “Not only will I be exonerated, but I will continue to be New Jersey’s senior senator.”
In his statement, Booker said: “Resigning is not an admission of guilt, but rather an acknowledgment that holding public office often requires enormous sacrifice at great personal cost. Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices to serve in the past. And in this case he has to do it again. I believe that resignation is the best thing for those Senator Menendez has served throughout his life.”