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CT Sens. Murphy and Blumenthal say Menendez should resign amid bribery allegations

Senator Bob Menendez and his wife Nadine Menendez arrive at a Manhattan court after they were indicted on bribery charges on September 27, 2023 in New York City. The couple are accused of receiving money and other gifts in a corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen.
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Senator Bob Menendez and his wife Nadine Menendez arrive at a Manhattan court after they were indicted on bribery charges on September 27, 2023 in New York City. The couple are accused of receiving money and other gifts in a corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen.

Connecticut’s two U.S. senators are calling on their colleague, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, to resign following federal bribery allegations.

Menendez should be afforded due process, but should step aside, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. Connecticut’s senior senator also addressed political contributions to him from Menendez.

“The serious and illegal actions alleged in the indictment against Senator Menendez are deeply troubling – indeed, antithetical to a position of public trust,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Like any criminal defendant, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence and a fair trial. But I believe he should resign, and I will be donating to an appropriate charity the contributions made by Senator Menendez to my recent reelection campaign.”

A spokesperson for Blumenthal did not immediately provide the total amount to be donated.

Menendez, the longtime chairman and top Democrat on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his wife, Nadine, are accused in an indictment released Friday of using his position to aid the authoritarian government of Egypt and to pressure federal prosecutors to drop a case against a friend, among other allegations of corruption.

The three-count indictment says they were paid bribes — gold bars, a luxury car and cash — by three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for the corrupt acts.

Menendez has refused to leave office but has not yet said whether he will run for reelection next year.

“I think Senator Menendez needs to resign. It’s the best path forward for the Senate,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East.

“It’s a devastating series of allegations and as a committee, we now have a responsibility to understand what Egypt was doing and what Egypt thought it was getting. There are serious implications for U.S. policy towards Egypt. If, as the indictment suggests, they [Egypt] were trying to use illicit means to curry favor on the committee,” he added, according to The Hill.

Menendez has denied any wrongdoing, saying he merely performed as any senator would and that the nearly half million dollars in cash found in his home — including some stuffed in pockets of clothing — was from personal savings and kept at hand for emergencies. Authorities recovered about 10 cash-filled envelopes that had the fingerprints of one of the other defendants in the case on them, according to the indictment.

Menendez and his wife were arraigned Wednesday. Both pleaded not guilty.

This story has been updated. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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