McCarthy joins calls for Sen. Bob Menendez to resign after 'very damaging' indictment

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ.) should resign after he was indicted on alleged federal bribery charges.

“Yeah, very much so,” McCarthy said Saturday at the Capitol.

McCarthy joins calls from many Democrats, including Congressional colleagues and state officials, for Menendez to resign. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) was the first congressional Democrat to call for his resignation.

Prior to saying that Menendez should resign, the California Republican called the indictment “very damaging,” saying what prosecutors presented “seems pretty black and white.”

Menendez was indicted Friday after he and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, allegedly accepted over $600,000 in bribes from a group of New Jersey businessmen on behalf of interests in Egypt.

In return for helping the businessmen, prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife accepted cash, gold bars and a luxury car in return. The FBI found nearly $500,000 in cash and more than $100,000 in gold bars at Menendez’s home during a raid last year.

Menendez, his wife and the three New Jersey businessmen were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, with prosecutors alleging the businessmen conspired to pay Menendez for political favors and that Menendez pressured New Jersey prosecutors to disrupt the prosecutions of multiple federal and state criminal cases.

The indictment also says the group communicated frequently over text, often through Arslanian, met multiple times and that the businessmen made multiple payments to Menendez and his wife.

In addition to allegedly disrupting the prosecutions of criminal cases, the indictment also alleges that Menendez accepted bribes from interests in Egypt and in return, advocated for issues important to the country in Congress.

All five defendants were also charged with conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, but in Menendez’s case, this charge relates to alleged abuse of his position as a public official.

Menendez and his wife were also exclusively charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, which relates to the pressure they put on federal and state prosecutors.

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin issued a statement on this charge, denouncing the alleged conduct while pointing out that what is contained in the indictment occurred prior to his time in office.

In addition to the criminal charges, prosecutors, seeking to keep the money and other gifts allegedly paid to the senator as a bribe, filed a forfeiture claim.

In response to the indictment and calls for him to resign, Menendez said “he is not going anywhere,” going as far as to say that he is the victim of an active “smear campaign.”

Menendez did step down from his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a move that was announced by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY.)

Friday’s indictment is not the first time that Menendez has faced corruption charges. He was indicted in 2015 for bribery charges relating to his connection with a doctor in Miami. The case went to trial in 2017, but the charges were dropped because the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.

Mychael Schnell contributed to this report.

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