Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey isn't backing down as he faces a lurid set of corruption charges—complete with gold bars and stacks of cash—and many prominent Democrats have had nothing to say. That silence is troubling, but it’s also a departure from the previous time Menendez was indicted, when Democrats rallied around him. But Friday evening, the dam may have started to burst, with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and the speaker of the state Assembly calling on Menendez to resign, along with Rep. Mikie Sherill.
But even with silence from Senate Democrats thus far, the difference between the Democratic response to Menendez’s indictment and the Republican response to Donald Trump’s indictments—or, for that matter, to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ raging corruption—is not hard to see.
For one thing, few high-ranking Democratic officials are rushing to call on Menendez to resign, but neither are they in front of cameras swearing to investigate the prosecutors who indicted him or ranting about political prosecutions. And as the hours passed, a few Democrats began to speak out. Rep. Dean Phillips was the first member of Congress to call for Menendez to resign. (Then again, Phillips has called for a primary challenge to President Joe Biden, so whatever.)
“As both a leader in the Democratic Party & the former Attorney General and given the nature of the charges, I call upon Senator Menendez to resign,” tweeted former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “The nation will be better served if he steps aside and allows a transition to occur that will best serve the people of New Jersey.”
But a bigger difference is visible if you compare the responses of liberal commentators to the immediate Republican rush to defend Trump:
As for the Republican response to the Menendez charges …
Republican voters have largely shrugged off Trump’s indictments, except for the loyalists who’ve made posturing threats of violence in response. Republican commentators have largely defended him, as have Republican lawmakers. It’s important that Democrats do better. So far, the signs are good, but we need more from our leaders.
Sign the petition: Justice Clarence Thomas must resign