"He's entitled to the presumption of innocence, but he cannot continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations," the Pennsylvania senator said.
Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. John Fetterman on Saturday joined a growing list of Democrats calling on Sen. Bob Menendez to step down in the wake of federal corruption charges filed against him and his wife.
"Sen. Menendez should resign," Fetterman said in a statement. "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. I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial."
Menenedez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, are accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes—including "cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, [and] a luxury vehicle"—from businessmen in exchange for influence.
The indictment also alleges that Menendez—who until he stepped down from the position on Friday chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—"provided sensitive U.S. government information and took other steps that secretly aided the government of Egypt."
Dismissing calls for his resignation, Menendez said he is "not going anywhere."
"Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty," the senator said in a statement late Friday. "I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I've had for the past five decades. This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along."
"It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat," he added.
Fetterman joins a growing list of Democrats calling on Menendez to resign. These include New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Reps. Jeff Jackson (N.C.), Dean Phillips (Minn.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Tom Malinowski (N.J.), Frank Pallone (N.J.), Mikie Sherill (N.J.), Bill Pascrell (N.J.), and Andy Kim (N.J.).
On Saturday, Kim said he would run for Menendez's Senate seat amid the senator's refusal to resign.
"I feel compelled to run against him. Not something I expected to do, but N.J. deserves better," Kim wrote in a fundraising pitch on social media. "We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity."
It's not just Democrats urging Menendez to step down. The New Jersey Working Families Party issued a statement Friday calling the allegations against the senator "alarming" and asserting that Democratic Party leaders "are doing the right thing in calling for his resignation."
This is the second time Menendez has faced corruption charges in the last decade. He was indicted in 2015 for allegedly receiving gifts and $660,000 in campaign contributions from a Florida eye doctor; the case ended in a mistrial in 2017. The U.S. Justice Department subsequently declined to retry him.