Menendez “is really a senator for Egypt, not New Jersey,” Fetterman added.
In a statement to POLITICO, Menendez said “Mr. Fetterman appears to think he’s judge, jury, and executioner. The junior Senator from Pennsylvania seems to be more interested in clickbait than justice.”
“He cannot say he stands for core constitutional principles of due process and the presumption of innocence when he is actively working to undermine my rights. I’m confident when all the facts are presented, I will be exonerated and the Senator will have to eat his words,” Menendez continued.
Fetterman has previously called for the New Jersey Democrat’s resignation and said that he’d be open to backing Menendez’s expulsion, given his refusal to step down. Fetterman’s remarks Friday came after a bipartisan vote to expel Santos after a damning House Ethics Committee report accused the first-term lawmaker of misusing campaign funds.
Menendez was first indicted along with his wife on federal bribery and extortion charges in September for allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in cash, gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible and home mortgage payments in exchange for using the senator’s position to benefit the businesspeople and the government of Egypt between 2018 and 2022. In October, federal prosecutors accused him of secretly acting as an agent of the government of Egypt, while serving as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The senator has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Although other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, including New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, have also issued calls for Menendez’s resignation over the allegations, Fetterman has repeatedly raised his objections.
In October, Fetterman tweeted “would it be awkward to attend a classified briefing on Israel when you’ve been accused of being a foreign agent for, let’s say, a country like Egypt. Asking for a friend,” in a clear dig at Menendez. In November, Fetterman introduced a resolution that would strip senators indicted on offenses such as mishandling classified information or being a foreign agent of their committee assignments and other privileges.