Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania called for the resignation of Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, while comparing his Democratic colleague to the notorious fictional mob boss Tony Soprano.
Menendez was indicted on federal corruption charges last week, with court documents revealing that the senator kept hidden at his residence large amounts of cash and gold bars that were allegedly obtained from bribes. Menendez has remained defiant, denying any wrongdoing and declaring that he is “not going anywhere.”
While Fetterman is one of several high-profile Democrats who have called for Menendez to step down after his indictment became public, he was the first Democratic Senate colleague of Menendez to call for his resignation.
“Honestly, I was actually surprised that I was the first one [to call for his resignation],” said Fetterman. “I mean, it’s so black and white. I mean, it’s so clear. The last time there’s ever been a man with so much cash in their home in New Jersey was, uh, Tony Soprano … I mean, it’s not a close call.”
“If you were looking for the most incriminating kinds of evidence, nobody could even come up with gold bars in a mattress,” he continued. “He’s entitled to have his day in court, but he is not entitled to remain in the Senate. And he needs to go.”
Fetterman went on to say that his resignation call was about “the integrity” of the Senate. He said that he believes New Jersey “is a safe blue seat” and that Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, who has also called for Menendez to resign, was ready to appoint his replacement.
Newsweek reached out for comment to the office of Menendez via email on Tuesday night.
Menendez has faced allegations of corruption for many years, having been indicted on conspiracy and bribery-related charges in 2015. Charges against Menendez were dropped after his trial ended in a hung jury in 2017.
Appearing at a press conference on Monday, Menendez maintained that he was not guilty of the charges in the new indictment and predicted that he would be “exonerated” and remain in office “when all the facts are presented.”
In response to Menendez claiming during the press conference that the $480,000 in cash that federal authorities say they found stashed at his home was “for emergencies,” Fetterman quipped that, “We have an extra flashlight for our home emergencies,” in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
In the days since Fetterman urged Menendez to resign, he has been joined by at least nine other Democrats serving in the Senate, including Menendez’s fellow senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker.
“Senator Menendez fiercely asserts his innocence and it is therefore understandable that he believes stepping down is patently unfair,” Booker said in a statement on Tuesday. “But I believe this is a mistake … I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”