Menendez will address Senate colleagues about his bribery charges as calls for his resignation grow

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Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., walks from the chamber to a closed-door meeting of the Senate Democratic Caucus to address his colleagues for the first time since he was indicted on federal bribery charges at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — With requires his resignation growing, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez is anticipated on Thursday to deal with his Democratic Senate colleagues for the primary time since he was indicted on federal bribery prices.

Greater than half of Senate Democrats have mentioned he ought to step down. However Menendez, who’s scheduled to talk to his colleagues in a closed-door occasion luncheon within the Capitol, has up to now signaled he has no plans to go away the Senate.

Menendez has taken a defiant tone in speeches and a press convention in latest days, at the same time as his Democratic colleagues in New Jersey and Washington have deserted him over the fees that he labored to secretly advance Egyptian pursuits and pressured prosecutors to assist his pals. Menendez pleaded not responsible to the fees on Wednesday.

“I firmly consider that when all of the info are introduced, not solely will I be exonerated, however I nonetheless will probably be New Jersey’s senior senator,” Menendez mentioned at a information convention earlier this week.

It’s unclear what Menendez will say to his colleagues. However the caucus assembly may determine the street forward for the three-term senator, who has already needed to step down from his function because the chairman of the Senate International Relations Committee because of the federal prices in opposition to him. He has not mentioned whether or not he’ll run for reelection subsequent 12 months, and not less than one Democrat, New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim, has already jumped into the first.

Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hinted on the uncertainty of Menendez’s political future when he introduced on Wednesday that the New Jersey senator would handle his colleagues the subsequent day. “We’ll see what occurs after that,” Schumer mentioned.

Leaving his workplace forward of the luncheon, Menendez didn’t reply questions on what he would inform his colleagues. “I sit up for addressing the caucus later,” he mentioned.

Menendez is accused alongside together with his spouse, Nadine, in an indictment launched Friday of utilizing his place to help the authoritarian authorities of Egypt and to stress federal prosecutors to drop a case in opposition to a buddy, amongst different allegations of corruption. The three-count indictment says they have been paid gold bars, a luxurious automobile and money by three New Jersey businessmen as bribes in trade for a number of corrupt acts.

Greater than 30 Senate Democrats, together with a number of of Schumer’s high deputies in management, have mentioned that Menendez ought to step other than workplace. Schumer didn’t name for Menendez to resign, however he mentioned he was “dissatisfied” and “disturbed” when he learn the indictment.

“For senators, there’s a a lot a lot increased normal,” Schumer mentioned. “And clearly once you learn the indictment, Senator Menendez fell approach, approach beneath that normal.”

In courtroom on Wednesday, Menendez spoke solely when every defendant stood to acknowledge that they understood the fees in opposition to them. He was launched on a $100,000 bond, and he should give up any private passports however will probably be allowed to maintain an official passport that will permit him to journey outdoors the U.S. for presidency enterprise. The decide ordered him to not have contact outdoors of the presence of legal professionals together with his co-defendants aside from his spouse.

It’s the second corruption case in a decade in opposition to Menendez, whose final trial involving totally different allegations ended with jurors failing to achieve a verdict in 2017.

Menendez was equally defiant as he fought these prices. However that point most of his colleagues stood by him — together with fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, who was a personality witness in his trial. On Tuesday, Booker known as for his longtime colleague to step down, saying the brand new indictment contains “surprising allegations of corruption and particular, disturbing particulars of wrongdoing.”

Authorities say they discovered practically $500,000 in money, a lot of it hidden in clothes and closets, in addition to greater than $100,000 in gold bars in a search of the New Jersey house Menendez shares together with his spouse.

Menendez mentioned Monday that the money present in his house was drawn from his private financial savings accounts over time and that he stored it readily available for emergencies. One of many envelopes full of money discovered at his house, nevertheless, bore the DNA of one of many businessmen who’re charged as his co-conspirators, the indictment mentioned. It was additionally marked with the true property developer’s return handle, in accordance with prosecutors.

The indictment alleges repeated actions by Menendez to learn Egypt, regardless of U.S. authorities misgivings over the nation’s human rights document that lately have prompted Congress to connect restrictions on help.

Prosecutors, who detailed conferences and dinners between Menendez and Egyptian officers, say Menendez gave delicate U.S. authorities info to Egyptian officers and ghostwrote a letter to fellow senators encouraging them to raise a maintain on $300 million in help to Egypt, one of many high recipients of U.S. navy help.


Related Press videojournalist Nathan Ellgren contributed to this report.

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