In a junior development in an ongoing un-epic saga, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) this morning said he wants his colleague, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), to resign.
The full statement, in all its tortured grandeur:
“For nearly a decade, I’ve worked in the Senate alongside Senator Menendez. As New Jersey’s junior Senator, I imagine that I’ve had more professional experiences with him than most others, and I’ve witnessed his extraordinary work and boundless work ethic. I’ve consistently found Senator Menendez to be intellectually gifted, tough, passionate, and deeply empathic. We have developed a working relationship and a friendship that I value and believe has furthered our effectiveness in serving New Jersey.
“Senator Menendez is again facing a federal indictment, one that contains shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing. I’ve found the allegations hard to reconcile with the person I know.
“It is not surprising to me that Senator Menendez is again determined to mount a vigorous defense. And I still believe he, like anyone involved with our criminal justice system, deserves our presumption of innocence until proven guilty. A jury of his peers will make the ultimate decision as to whether he is criminally guilty.
“There is, however, another higher standard for public officials, one not of criminal law but of common ideals. As Senators, we operate in the public trust. That trust is essential to our ability to do our work and perform our duties for our constituents.
“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.
“As Senator Menendez prepares to mount his legal defense, he has stated that he will not resign. Senator Menendez fiercely asserts his innocence and it is therefore understandable that he believes stepping down is patently unfair. But I believe this is a mistake.
“Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve. And in this case he must do so again. I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”
The statement from New Jersey’s junior senator represents a change on the federal scene, where Menendez’s fellow caucus members have been reluctant to cast a stone at the indicted New Jerseyan.
A few swing state occupants gurlged up over the last hours, among them Tester, Casey, Brown, Klobuchar, calling for Menendez to skidoo.
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., has called for Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey to resign in the wake of bombshell bribery allegations against him, but so far their Democratic colleagues are being more guarded.
In interviews on Sunday news programs, three Democratic senators were highly critical of Menendez, who was recently indicted on sweeping corruption charges, but did not call for him to vacate his seat in the Senate, where Democrats have a slim majority.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who’s on the Foreign Relations Committee, which Menendez chaired until Friday, called the allegations “devastating.”
“No senators should be trading on their position in order to enrich themselves. It is hard for me to believe that Sen. Menendez can be effective in his job given these allegations, but I think I want to get back and talk to my colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee before I recommend a path forward for Sen. Menendez,” Murphy said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart.”
Meanwhile, the allies of Governor Phil Murphy floated a trial balloon to NJ.com about behind-the-scenes clamor for First Lady Tammy Murphy to occupy the seat that Menendez refuses to surrender.
“First Lady Tammy Murphy is being encouraged by some Democratic leaders to consider a run for the seat now held by embattled Sen. Robert Menendez, according to two sources close to the administration.”
“Some Democratic leaders.”
Surely, in these dynastic (Rob Menendez, Tom Kean, Jr.) times, other members of the Murphy family can be counted as “Democratic leaders”.