Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker joined calls Tuesday for fellow state Sen. Bob Menendez to resign over the three-count indictment accusing the latter of bribery offenses.
The Southern District of New York charged Menendez and his wife, Nadine, with three counts for allegedly accepting bribes in the form of cash, gold bars and a Mercedes-Benz in order to wield his political power for the benefit of the Egyptian government and business associates in New Jersey.
Now, Booker is joining several other Democratic lawmakers in their calls for Menendez to resign, The New York Times (NYT) reported.
“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,” Booker said in a statement. “I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”
Still, Booker said he values Mendendez’s friendship. He touted the senator’s “boundless work ethic” and offered support for the “vigorous defense” he is building, the NYT reported.
Menendez has refused to resign and denied all wrongdoing in a Friday statement. He claimed during a Monday press conference that the money and gold allegedly found in his home were part of his personal savings account.
The senator “temporarily” stepped down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the role in which he allegedly used his power to benefit and hand over sensitive U.S. government information to the Egyptian government. (RELATED: Cascade Of Senate Democrats Call On Bob Menendez To Resign)
Top Democrats in New Jersey and in Congress have largely united in their calls for Menendez to step down, notably state Gov. Phil Murphy. Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made the same call over the “extremely serious” allegations during a Sunday interview with CBS News’ Margaret Brennan.
Booker became one of the first members of the Senate to co-sponsor Menendez’s bill to impose stricter sanctions on Iran as punishment for the country’s nuclear weapons system in 2013, according to the NYT. The two New Jersey senators have co-hosted news conferences and public events and remained tight-knit over the years.
Booker stood by Menendez during his legal battle in 2015 regarding corruption charges, in which Menendez was accused of helping an eye surgeon in New Jersey who was later convicted and sentenced for Medicare fraud. A judge and the Department of Justice eventually acquitted Menendez of the charges.
“Bob is my friend. There’s no senator I’ve worked more closely with. He is an extraordinary senator. I’ve seen him in the most intimate moments and didn’t see a hint of corruption,” Booker told the Huffington Post in a 2019 interview. “I will stand by Bob Menendez.”