No Republican senator has called on Menendez to resign — but they’re happy to use his scandal to bludgeon Democrats

Sen. Steve Daines, the chairman of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, has declined to call for Sen. Bob Menendez to resign.

Sen. Steve Daines, the chairman of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, has declined to call for Sen. Bob Menendez to resign.Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

  • No Republican senator has publicly called for Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez to resign.

  • But the GOP’s Senate campaign arm has been using the scandal to hit vulnerable Democrats.

  • The group’s chairman, Sen. Steve Daines, says the matter is “for Democrats to decide.”

Not a single Republican senator has called for Sen. Bob Menendez to resign in the wake of his latest indictment.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t smell a ripe political opportunity.

In statements and tweets over the course of the last week, Senate Republicans’ official campaign arm — the National Republican Senatorial Committee — has sought to tie politically vulnerable Democratic senators to the corruption allegations against their colleague. 

On Monday, when Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania was still the only senator who had called for Menendez to resign, the committee pointed out the silence of most Democrats.

“You’d think it would be a no-brainer to say someone who took gold bars from foreign businessmen to rig US foreign policy is unfit to serve in the Senate, but apparently Senate Democrats disagree,” said NRSC spokesman Phil Letsou at the time. “Democrats have made clear they will tolerate Bob Menendez’s comical levels of corruption as long as he continues to back their extreme agenda.”

But 48 hours later, the story was far different — the vast majority of the Democratic caucus, largely led by the party’s most vulnerable members, had issued public calls for Menendez to go.

And it’s now Republicans who appear unwilling to do so.

“That’s for Democrats to decide,” replied Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, the NRSC chairman, when asked by Insider on Thursday if he believed Menendez should resign.

Asked what he personally thought of the allegations, Daines tersely replied: “The allegations speak for themselves. They’re very serious.”

Republican senators have generally argued that Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, and that the matter is for New Jersey voters to decide in 2024, when Menendez would be facing re-election.

“Everyone’s entitled to a presumption of innocence,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told Insider on Tuesday.

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas even suggested on Twitter that Democrats were only calling for Menendez to resign because he’s seen as “inconvenient to their hold on power.”

The only Republican who’s come close to issuing a resignation call for Menendez is Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who told Axios that the New Jersey Democrat should resign “if one ounce of what’s in the indictment is true.”

Meanwhile, the NRSC has issued statements pressuring Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania — two of the party’s vulnerable incumbents — to return thousands in political contributions they’ve received from Menendez’s political action committee over the years.

Both senators’ campaigns have said they’ll donate $10,000 to charity, but they haven’t said they’ll return the entirety of the sums they received, including $26,500 to Casey’s campaign accounts and $30,000 to Tester’s campaign.

In a statement for this story, NRSC spokesman Phil Letsou argued that the matter of Menendez’s resignation was solely up to Democrats, given that they currently hold a majority in the Senate.

“We asked why Jon Tester and Bob Casey only returned some of the cash they received from Menendez,” said Letsou. “If they think Menendez’s money is dirty, why not return it all? We’d also like to know if Menendez made his contributions to Casey and Tester in gold bars.”


Read the original article on Business Insider

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