Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), one of the more moderate members of the House Democratic caucus, has consistently called for aging politicians to move on from public life.
An increasing number of House Democrats on Friday joined fellow party members calling on New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez to resign as he faces an indictment that alleges he accepted bribes from businesspeople in a scheme that benefitted the Egyptian government.
“I’m appalled,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) told CNN’s Manu Raju. “A member of Congress who appears to have broken the law is someone who I believe should resign.”
“Yes, the answer is absolutely,” he said, when asked whether Democratic leaders should push him out.
After facing numerous scandals in his nearly 40-year political career, Menendez is confronting significant legal charges that allege he used his political power to interfere with a federal investigation and benefit a foreign country that the U.S. does not count as a consistent ally. Before Friday, he had indicated that he would still run for reelection in 2024.
A large portion of the New Jersey House delegation, as well as Gov. Phil Murphy, called on the senator to resign as details of the indictment emerged on Friday. Several members of the House Democratic caucus from across the country joined them.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who sits on the House intelligence committee, said his resignation was necessary to ensure foreign leaders could not think they could buy any influence with the U.S.
“Certainly, he is innocent until proven guilty, but this indictment is damning and he should resign,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday.
“I called on Rep. [George] Santos to resign when he was indicted because I read the indictment and, at minimum, it detailed highly unethical behavior,” Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-N.C.) wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “The same standard must apply to Sen. Menendez. The indictment, at minimum, details behavior far below acceptable standards for a U.S. Senator. He should resign.”
Menendez on Friday evening expressed no intention to leave office. In accordance with bylaws governing Senate Democrats, he stepped down from his powerful post atop the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday afternoon.