Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) came to the defense of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Tuesday, amid growing calls for the New Jersey senator to resign.
“Senator Menendez has a right to test the government’s evidence in court, just like any other citizen. He should be judged by jurors and New Jersey’s voters, not by Democratic politicians who now view him as inconvenient to their hold on power,” Mr. Cotton wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sept. 26.
According to the indictment, the bribes included gold bars worth over $100,000, more than $480,000 in cash, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, and home furnishings.
On Tuesday, when asked by a reporter why he is not resigning, Mr. Menendez said, “Because I’m innocent.”
Mr. Cotton called the charges against his Democratic colleague “serious and troubling,” while noting the Department of Justice’s past record in prosecuting public figures.
Mr. Cotton’s sentiment was echoed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“The allegations against the Senior Senator from New Jersey are nasty & the evidence offered difficult to explain away,” Mr. Rubio wrote on X on Sept. 26. “But in America guilt is decided by a jury, not politicians in fear of their party losing a Senate seat.”
Mr. Menendez, who has represented New Jersey in the Senate since 2006, is seeking reelection in 2024. Shirley Maia-Cusick, a Republican Senate candidate for New Jersey, called on Mr. Menendez to “resign immediately” in a statement, adding that “it is time for justice to be served.”
Many House Democrats also called on the embattled New Jersey senator to step down, including Reps. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), David Trone (D-Md.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Don Beyer (D-Va.).
“A jury will decide whether Senator Menendez committed federal crimes that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but the preponderance of evidence presented in the indictment makes it impossible for him to continue serving in the U.S. Senate, and I urge him to resign,” Mr. Beyer wrote.
Mr. Beyer added, “I further urge the Administration and my colleagues in Congress and to note and respond forcefully to the covert Egyptian campaign to thwart American foreign policy aims detailed in the indictment.”