June 18, 2024

(Bloomberg) — Senator Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat indicted on federal corruption charges, was urged to resign by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while one of his state’s House members said the party can’t afford “distractions.”

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“The situation is quite unfortunate, but I do believe that it is in the best interest for Senator Menendez to resign in this moment,” Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “I believe it’s in the best interest to maintain the integrity of the seat.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, US Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Representatives Bill Pascrell and Mikie Sherill are among Democrats who previously called on Menendez to resign.

Representative Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, said Sunday he has urged Menendez to step aside given “the gravity of the charges.”

“I think right now — given how we’ve got elections coming up, there’s a lot of distractions, obviously, giving the senator time to defend himself — I think what’s best is that he step aside,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Dick Durbin, the Senate’s second-highest ranking Democrat, warned against rushing to judgment, telling CNN that the allegations are “serious” but “these are in fact indictments that have to be proven.”

“In terms of resignation, that’s a decision to be made by Senator Menendez and the people of New Jersey,” Durbin said. “I can tell you that it’s a significant event and whether or not he’ll run for reelection remains to be seen.”

Durbin declined to take a position when asked whether Menendez, who is facing a possible primary challenge from New Jersey Representative Andy Kim, should run for reelection.

Read more: NJ Banker Accused of Bribing Menendez to Sway Loan Scheme Case

The federal indictment against Menendez alleges the senator, who was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until he stepped down from the position Friday, used his power to benefit Egypt, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts, gold bars and a luxury sports car. Menendez called the allegations “baseless” in a statement released Friday.

(Updates with Ocasio-Cortez, Gottheimer starting in first paragraph.)

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