US Senator Robert Menendez ought to resign from his seat in Congress after the Justice Department announced bribery charges against the lawmaker and his wife, Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement.
“Senator Menendez and the other defendants have not been found guilty… However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation,” the statement said on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, the Justice Department unsealed an indictment charging Menendez, his wife and three other individuals with crimes including conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
The investigation into Menendez is ongoing, US Attorney Damian Williams said in a press conference on the charges.
Menendez allegedly exchanged his influence as a lawmaker to enrich himself and other co-defendants, as well as to benefit the Egyptian government, according to the indictment. The bribes allegedly included cash, gold bars and a luxury vehicle.
Menendez released a statement in response to the allegations, characterizing the case as an “active smear campaign” based on anonymous sources and innuendos. However, the lawmaker agreed to temporarily step down as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair until the case resolves.
The allegations against Menendez implicate national security and the integrity of the US justice system, Murphy’s statement said.
Democratic US Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, who also represents New Jersey, likewise called on Menendez to resign. Menendez’s resignation would be in the “best interest” of New Jersey, Sherrill said.