Pennsylvania’s Fetterman may pursue expulsion of ‘defiant’ Menendez from U.S. Senate

By: - September 28, 2023 3:38 pm

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife Nadine arrive for a court appearance at Manhattan Federal Court on Sept. 27, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Sen. John Fetterman said Thursday he would be open to expelling New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez from the Senate.

“Now that it’s confirmed that he’s not going to go the honorable way. You know, I would like to pursue whatever avenues are available,” Fetterman told reporters.

Menendez spoke privately with his Democratic Senate colleagues at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, just days after he was indicted on federal criminal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under the color of official right. Menendez has denied the charges and repeatedly said he will not resign, though he did temporarily step aside as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Menendez said afterward that he would continue casting votes in the Senate, according to a video from MSNBC.

The U.S. “Constitution provides the House and Senate with broad, but not unlimited, authority to expel their own Members with the concurrence (of) two-thirds of the body,” according to a Congressional Research Service report.

Fetterman, when asked if he would introduce a resolution to expel Menendez said, “whatever kinds of procedure that could bring about getting rid of him, I’m all for it.”

Fetterman didn’t attend the closed-door meeting, saying that he didn’t want to hear anything from his colleague other than that he would leave the Senate. More than two dozen Democratic senators have called on Menendez to resign.

“I’m not interested in some kind of explanation on why he has gold bars in his mattress or anything like that,” Fetterman said, referring to photos in the indictment that showed Menendez had significant amounts of cash and gold bars in his home. “But from what I understand he refuses to and he’s defiant.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Fetterman said, should call on Menendez to resign. Schumer declined to comment following the meeting.

Fetterman said he would also support a primary challenge to Menendez, who is up for reelection next year.

“I do because again, you know, you have our colleagues in tough races right now, in my state, or Montana, or Ohio. And the kind of baggage that he brings to this already makes it already difficult,” Fetterman said. “And now it puts New Jersey in play.”

Many other Democratic senators who attended the lunch declined to comment on what Menendez said, including his fellow New Jersey Democratic senator, Cory Booker.

Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly said he wanted to give Menendez “the courtesy of being able to speak to us in private.”

“I’m not going to share any information,” Kelly said.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said it was a “pretty private conversation.”

“I just think this is a pretty important conversation to keep private,” Murphy said.

Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons opted not to attend the meeting, given his role as chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.

“As the chairman of the Ethics Committee, I can’t comment on any matter that is or may be before the committee,” Coon said. “As a result, I do my best to avoid circumstances where matters that are or may be before the Ethics Committee are discussed.”

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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.