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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has reportedly called on Democratic Senator Robert Menendez to resign after he was indicted on federal bribery charges Friday. Murphy is just one of several Democrats who have called on the senator to step down from his post.
Murphy referred to the allegations as "deeply disturbing" and that they "implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system." Fox News reported that Democrats who have issued statements of their own, calling for Menendez's resignation, include New Jersey federal Representatives Andy Kim, Miki Sherrill, Bill Pascrell, and Frank Pallone.
"Under our legal system, Senator Menendez and the other defendants have not been found guilty and will have the ability to present evidence disputing these charges, and we must respect the process," Murphy said. "However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation."
Menendez responded with a statement on Friday, saying "I am not going anywhere."
"Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty," Menendez added. "I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I've had for the past five decades. This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along. It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat."
Menendez has been accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes in exchange for using his political power to protect and enrich three New Jersey businessman and apparently benefiting Egypt's government by approving arms sales, per CBS News.
Menendez's wife, Nadine, has also been charged, along with the three businessmen in question, who have been identified as Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes. The report said that the senator and his wife are facing one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
The businessmen are also facing two counts. All five of the defendants are reportedly set to appear in federal court in Manhattan for the first time next week.
Prosecutors in the case said federal agents recovered $480,000 in cash during a search of the Menendez's home back in June 2022. There was also $70,000 stuffed into a safety deposit box belonging to Nadine, as well as gold bars worth more than $100,000, according to the report.
However, Menendez claims that he is innocent, suggesting that the accusations are part of an "active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists."
Menendez was indicted on corruption charges in 2015, but it resulted in a hung jury. Seven of the 18 charges were tossed by New Jersey federal judge William Walls, and the remaining charges were dropped by prosecutors, who decided not to retry the case.
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