New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday became the first progressive House Democrat to call on Sen. Bob Menendez to resign following the former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair’s indictment last week on federal bribery charges.
Menendez (D-N.J.) and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were charged Friday with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes—including gold bars, cash, home mortgage payments, and a Mercedes-Benz—from businessmen in exchange for influence. The indictment also accuses Menendez of giving “sensitive U.S. government information” to Egypt’s dictatorship.
Appearing on CBS‘ “Face the Nation,” Ocasio-Cortez said that “the situation is quite unfortunate, but I do believe that it is in the best interest for Sen. Menendez to resign in this moment.”
“Consistency matters. It shouldn’t matter whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat. The details in this indictment are extremely serious. They involve the nature of not just his, but all of our seats in Congress,” added Ocasio-Cortez, who is the vice-ranking member of the House Oversight Committee.
Asked for her reaction to Menendez’s assertion that some of his congressional colleagues “are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat,” Ocasio-Cortez said: “As a Latina, there are absolutely ways in which there is systemic bias, but I think what is here in this indictment is quite clear. And I believe it is in the best interest to maintain the integrity of the seat.”
Ocasio-Cortez joins a growing list of Democrats including Sen. John Fetterman (Pa.) and 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.) who are urging Menendez to resign.
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.”
While defiantly declaring that he is “not going anywhere,” Menendez did step down from his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position he had held since 2021.
Following her “Face the Nation” appearance, Ocasio-Cortez flew to Missouri to stand in solidarity with striking United Auto Workers members. The congresswoman said the nation is facing “a crisis of inequality,” while hailing President Joe Biden’s planned trip to join Michigan UAW workers on the picket line Tuesday as “a historic event.”
“We have never seen in modern history a president show up to a picket line like this,” she said.