The New Jersey Democrat "is a disgrace and a distraction, and he should resign immediately," said one critic.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez endured new demands for his resignation on Tuesday after federal prosecutors accused him of taking bribes related to the government of Qatar, building on previous calls for the New Jersey Democrat to step down.
"Sen. Menendez should resign out of respect for the people of New Jersey and Americans everywhere," declared Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.). "These new allegations are the definition of political corruption, and people should be able to trust that their elected officials are working for them, not foreign entities."
Melanie D'Arrigo, executive director of the Campaign for New York Health and a former congressional candidate, also called for his resignation, saying that "too many in Congress are treating corruption as the goal, not the problem that needs to be addressed."
Political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen said Menendez "is a disgrace and a distraction, and he should resign immediately," adding that there is "no room in the Democratic Party for such abject corruption."
The senator and his wife were charged in September for allegedly engaging in "a corrupt relationship" with New Jersey businessmen Wael "Will" Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, and accepting bribes in the form of "cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value."
Menendez—who is up for reelection this year—swiftly stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but remains on the panel. In October, prosecutors accused him of acting as an unregistered agent for the government of Egypt.
The new superseding indictment doesn't add any charges but claims that the 70-year-old senator also publicly praised the government of Qatar to help Daibes with a multimillion-dollar real estate deal involving a member of the Qatari royal family.
While Tim Donohue, an attorney for Daibes, toldThe Associated Press Tuesday that he had no comment, Menendez lawyer Adam Fee claimed that the latest allegations "stink of desperation."
"Despite what they've touted in press releases, the government does not have the proof to back up any of the old or new allegations against Sen. Menendez," Fee said. "What they have instead is a string of baseless assumptions and bizarre conjectures based on routine, lawful contacts between a Senator and his constituents or foreign officials. They are turning this into a persecution, not a prosecution."
"At all times, Sen. Menendez acted entirely appropriately with respect to Qatar, Egypt, and the many other countries he routinely interacts with," he added. "Those interactions were always based on his professional judgment as to the best interests of the United States because he is, and always has been, a patriot. This latest indictment only exposes the lengths to which these hostile prosecutors will go to poison the public before a trial even begins. But these new allegations don't change a thing, and their theories won't survive the scrutiny of the court or a jury."