US Senator Bob Menendez tells colleagues he will not resign


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Embattled U.S. Senator Bob Menendez told his Democratic colleagues on Thursday that he will not resign, a day after he pleaded not guilty to federal charges of accepting bribes, fellow Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said.

Menendez made that pledge during a closed-door meeting with members of his caucus, Manchin told reporters after leaving the meeting.

At least 27 senators in the 51-member caucus – Democrats and three independents who typically vote with them – have called for Menendez’ resignation including No. 2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin. Gary Peters, the head of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, and Menendez’ fellow senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker, joined the call.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, said on Wednesday Menendez’ behavior fell below the standard appropriate for a senator, but stopped short of calling for him to resign.

Prosecutors have said Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, accepted gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for using their influence to interfere with law enforcement probes of three New Jersey businessmen and aid the Egyptian government.

They pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday.

Menendez’ Senate seat is in play in the 2024 elections. Though New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972, his legal troubles could pose problems for his party, which is trying to maintain its narrow control of the chamber. Menendez has drawn one challenger to the seat so far.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Makini Brice and Moira Warburton; Editing by Scott Malone, Jamie Freed and Cynthia Osterman)

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