Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., told the Democratic Senate Caucus during a closed lunch on Thursday he would not resign amid federal corruption and bribery charges announced this week.
‘I will continue to cast votes on behalf of the people of New Jersey as I have for 18 years,’ Menendez said as he exited the lunch. ‘I think Schumer may need those votes, he’ll be looking forward for me to cast them.’
According to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V, who was in the meeting, Menendez made his point well. Menendez and his wife federal corruption and bribery charges.
‘I think he made his point, he delivered it very well,’ Manchin told reporters. ‘Basically the whole theme of everything was every American is innocent until proven guilty, giving the benefit of the doubt.’
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii., left the meeting while Menendez spoke due to being on the ethics committee, Coons told reporters.
‘As the chairman of the ethics committee, I can’t comment on any matter that is or may be before the committee. As a result, I do my best to avoid circumstances where matters that are or may be before the Ethics Committee are discussed,’ Coons said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., declined to say whether Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., should resign from his position Wednesday afternoon.
According to Manchin, Schumer did not say anything during Thursday’s meeting, and just ‘gave him the floor.’ Schumer did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment after the meeting.
A senior Senate Democrat also said following the meeting: ‘I’m really depressed about it. I don’t know what to do about it. We all don’t. I’m not going to say anymore about it.’
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said, ‘I don’t think there’s anything happy about this situation.’
Menendez was indicted Friday in the Southern District of New York for allegedly agreeing to use his official position to benefit New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes and Egypt’s government in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes. The indictment also charges Menendez’s wife, Nadine, and the three businessmen in the years-long alleged bribery scheme. Federal prosecutors said the bribes included gold bars, cash and a luxury convertible.
So far, Menendez has refused to resign his seat but stepped down from his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Friday.
The Democratic senator was also indicted on federal bribery charges in 2016. Fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker defended his innocence at the time, but after the most recent charges called on Menendez to resign.
The 2016 case related to a wealthy Florida eye doctor and longtime friend who gave generous donations to Menendez and allegedly received benefits in return. He was acquitted of the charges in 2018 following a mistrial. The new charges are unrelated.
Menendez insisted at a press conference Monday he will be exonerated, as he detailed his decades-long record in Congress and insisted hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash the FBI found at his home was withdrawn from his personal savings account.
‘The allegations leveled against me are just that, allegations,’ Menendez said. ‘For anyone who has known me throughout my 50 years of public service, they know I have always fought for what is right. My advocacy has always been grounded. And what I learned from growing up as the son of Cuban refugees, especially my mom, my hero, Evangelina Menendez. Everything I accomplished, I worked for despite the nay sayers and everyone who has underestimated me.’
In June 2022, the FBI executed a search warrant at Menendez and his wife’s New Jersey home where federal agents many of the fruits of the bribery scheme, including cash, gold, the luxury convertible, and home furnishings. Prosecutors say $480,000 in cash, much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe, was discovered in the home, as well as over $70,000 in cash in Nadine’s safe deposit box. Some of the envelopes contained the fingerprints and/or DNA of Daibes or his driver, according to the indictment.
Other of the envelopes were found inside jackets bearing Menendez name and hanging in his closet.
As of Thursday, more than half of the Senate Democratic Caucus have called on Menendez to resign.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.