Days after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) praised the embattled Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) as he faced corruption charges, a third of the Senate Democratic caucus called on Menendez to resign.
On Friday, the same day the federal government indicted Menendez, Schumer said Menendez "has been a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey." He also praised the New Jersey senator for having "rightly decided to step down temporarily from his position as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee until the matter has been resolved." Menendez on Monday declared in a press conference that he would not resign from his seat.
By Tuesday afternoon, however, at least 17 of the 51 Democratic senators had called for Menendez's resignation from the Senate, including the junior senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker.
"Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost," Booker said in a statement. "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."
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D., Ga.) echoed Booker's comments.
"The covenant we have with the American people is sacred, and ensuring the public we work for them and not other interests is paramount," Warnock said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. "Senator Menendez should step aside and resign."
Menendez faces charges of pressuring several government agencies to help his business associates, who allegedly bribed him with gold bars, an apartment, and a sports car. Prosecutors also alleged that Menendez ghost-wrote a letter on behalf of Egyptian officials in the hopes of convincing other senators to release $300 million of aid to Egypt.