In one of modern politics’ great ironies, Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman has been the only Democrat in the Senate to call for the resignation of New Jersey’s Senator Bob Menendez.
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., has called for Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey to resign in the wake of bombshell bribery allegations against him, but so far their Democratic colleagues are being more guarded.
In interviews on Sunday news programs, three Democratic senators were highly critical of Menendez, who was recently indicted on sweeping corruption charges, but did not call for him to vacate his seat in the Senate, where Democrats have a slim majority.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who’s on the Foreign Relations Committee, which Menendez chaired until Friday, called the allegations “devastating.”
My RedState colleagues have been covering this story as it unfolds; read these for the complete picture:
As of this writing, however, Fetterman is the first sitting senator to call on Senator Menendez to surrender his Senate seat.
Fetterman became the first Democratic senator to call for Menendez to resign Saturday. “He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system, but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations,” Fetterman said in a statement.
Menendez has denied wrongdoing, and he said in a statement Friday night, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Of course, Senator Menendez is innocent until proven guilty; he is entitled to the same constitutional rights and the same protections under the law as any citizen. But on the execution of a search warrant, federal investigators found almost half a million dollars in cash as well as gold bars, and there are records of mysterious mortgage payments by third parties, among other things.
That’s a lot of smoke for there not to be a fire there someplace.
It sure appears that Senator Menendez intends to brazen his way out of this. But his legal protections don’t preclude increasing calls for him to resign, and it seems unlikely in the extreme that Senator Fetterman will be the last Democrat politician to call for him to step down. Unless there is just some staggeringly good defense that Senator Menendez’s attorneys are going to unleash, his political career has taken a shot to the hull and is taking on water fast.
Senators aside, New Jersey’s Governor and some other New Jersey (and therefore Democrat) politicians are calling for Menendez to step away:
Numerous Democrats in Menendez’s home state, meanwhile, including Gov. Phil Murphy, have called for him to step down. Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., has also called on him to resign, and he said Saturday he plans to challenge Menendez for his seat.
Expect these calls to grow louder and more insistent as the case proceeds.
But what about John Fetterman?
Senator Fetterman is arguably unfit to serve in the Senate himself. Forget his presiding over the Senate dressed in a manner that a janitor would find slovenly and unacceptable; forget his bizarre response to the House impeachment inquiry. He has serious health issues, both physical and mental, that should have precluded his being elected, much less holding his Senate seat throughout all of his various issues.
The fact that one senator who is arguably unfit to serve due to mental and physical health issues calls for the resignation of another senator who is arguably unfit to serve due to credible allegations of corruption? If that’s not the great irony of the week, it will do until a better one comes along.