Let’s just say this. George Santos goes first. Then Menendez.
The Pennsylvania Democrat, the first senator to call for Menendez’s resignation after he and his wife were indicted on federal bribery charges, made the call in a statement after the superseding indictment was handed down on Thursday morning. The New Jersey senator is now accused of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act through his work on behalf of the government of Egypt without registering as a foreign agent.
“Senator Menendez should not be a U.S. Senator. He should have been gone long ago,” Fetterman’s statement read. “It is time for every one of my colleagues in the Senate to join me in expelling Senator Menendez. We cannot have an alleged foreign agent in the United States Senate. This is not a close call.”
More than half of Senate Democrats have called on Menendez to resign, though Fetterman is the first member to come out in favor of expulsion. It remains to be seen if the latest set of charges prompt those who had previously demurred to back the resignation calls, or if any members already calling for Menendez to step aside will come out in favor of expulsion.
The expulsion effort would require two-thirds support to pass in the Senate, which is unlikely given Democrats’ small majority and guaranteed opposition from the GOP. The fact that 20 Senate Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have said Menendez deserves the opportunity to fight the charges serves as another blockade.
Federal prosecutors have accused Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, of illegally using the senator’s position as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to peddle influence with donors and benefit the Egyptian government in exchange for cash, gold bars, and other valuables.
The senator, who was required to relinquish his Foreign Relations Committee chairmanship after last month’s indictment, dismissed those charges as part of a larger “smear campaign” against him and vowed to fight them. All five of the co-defendants in the case have pleaded not guilty and Menendez is out on $100,000 bond.
He and his wife, who was also charged in the superseding indictment on Thursday, have not yet pleaded to the newest charges, though the embattled senator said in a statement that, “I have been, throughout my life, loyal to only one country — the United States of America, the land my family chose to live in democracy and freedom.”
Asked by the Washington Examiner’s Naomi Lim if the Biden administration has or is considering conducting an assessment at Thursday’s White House press briefing, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declined to comment.