Manchin Says Menendez ‘Will Not Resign,’ Defying Rising Chorus of Democrats Calling for Him To Step Down

A new poll finds the senator is viewed unfavorably by 74 percent of New Jersey residents.

AP/Alex Brandon, pool
Senator Menendez on Capitol Hill, December 7, 2021. AP/Alex Brandon, pool

Senator Menendez is not expected to resign anytime soon. After the embattled senator from New Jersey addressed his colleagues in the Senate Democratic caucus, Senator Manchin told reporters, “He will not resign,” while he was leaving the meeting.

The development signals that Mr. Menendez will defy Democrats’ calls to resign as he defends himself from criminal allegations disclosed in an indictment last week.

In the indictment, Mr. Menedez is accused of having used his office to help a New Jersey halal certification company maintain a state-granted monopoly on certifying imports coming to Egypt from America.

In the indictment, investigators disclosed photos showing that they had found hundreds of thousands of dollars stuffed in the pockets of jackets in his closest as well as a number of gold bars.

So far, Mr. Menendez has struck a defiant tone in public, refusing to step down as senator and saying that he’s confident he would remain the senior senator from New Jersey after the case is litigated.

“I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” Mr. Menendez said at a press conference earlier this week. On Wednesday he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in federal court at Manhattan.

So far, 30 senators have publicly called on Mr. Menendez to resign, all Democrats. Wednesday, however, Senator Schumer declined to call on Mr. Menendez to resign.

Mr. Fetterman has been among the most vocal senators calling on Mr. Menendez to resign, saying ahead of the meeting that “We’re past the point of his tough talk and defiance, given the scope and scale of his alleged corruption.”

“Unless Senator Menendez is coming today to resign, I am not interested in hearing his ‘explanation’ for gold bars stashed in a mattress,” Mr. Fetterman said in a tweet. “I’d respectfully suggest that Senator Menendez contact Ed Pawlowski, from my home state, to see how that story ended in misplaced bravado.”

Pawlowski was the mayor of Allentown, Pennsylvania until 2018, when he was convicted on 47 federal corruption charges related actions he took as the mayor.

At the same time Mr. Menendez faces calls to resign from his colleagues, it appears that voters at New Jersey are ready for him to resign as well.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday found that Mr. Menendez is viewed unfavorably by 74 percent of New Jersey residents who responded to the poll. Only 8 percent have a favorable opinion of the senator.

Mr. Menendez’s re-election prospects were similarly grim, with the senator enjoying the support of only 20 percent of respondents in a hypothetical matchup against a generic Republican, who would theoretically receive 42 percent support. 

Congressman Andy Kim, Mr. Menendez’s chief primary opponent at the moment, would receive 44 percent support in the same scenario while his hypothetical generic Republican opponent would receive 32 percent support.

The New York Sun

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