GOP launches aggressive effort to pressure Bob Menendez to resign if convicted
September 5, 2017
"Sen. Bob Menendez is promising he will be cleared of charges of bribery and corruption at his trial that starts Wednesday, but Republicans in Washington are launching an aggressive campaign now to get his colleagues to pressure him to resign if convicted.
"The effort by the Republican National Committee will be aimed at the New Jersey senator's fellow Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York; senators running for re-election in states that President Trump won last year; and those with potential aspirations for the presidency in 2020, such as Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
"The GOP pressure campaign includes ads on social media that highlight how Democrats, including then-senator Barack Obama of Illinois, said in 2008 that Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, needed to resign after he was convicted of corruption.
"For Menendez, Republicans are setting up a war room to track coverage of the trial and disseminate any potentially embarrassing details that emerge. The party will also have 'trackers' try to get senators in their home states say whether they want Menendez to stay.
"'Convicted felons can't even vote in many parts of the country, but Democrats are going to let one keep voting in the United States Senate?' said Michael Ahrens, an RNC spokesman. 'If Democrats don't call for a convicted felon to resign immediately and instead force taxpayers to keep paying his salary, that's a debate we're ready to have.'
"Menendez, 63, was accused in a 2015 indictment of using his office to benefit the personal and business interests of co-defendant and longtime friend Salomon Melgen, 63, of North Palm Beach, Fla. Melgen, a wealthy ophthalmologist, allegedly paid bribes in the form of luxury travel, including flights on his private plane to his villa in a Dominican resort, and more than $700,000 in contributions to super PACs and political committees that helped Menendez get re-elected in 2012.
"In a radio interview in Michigan on Wednesday, RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel said the trial deserves more public attention because of the charges involved.
"'It is astounding to look at the counts against him and the bribery counts against him,' she said. 'He took 19 free rides with this gentleman, he helped get visas for his girlfriend, this big donor…'"
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