Embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has asked to speak to the Senate Democratic conference Thursday in an attempt to stem the growing political momentum among Democratic senators who say he should resign after being indicted on federal corruption and bribery charges.
Menendez has already relinquished his post as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but there are other questions that need to be resolved, such as whether he should be allowed to have access to classified Senate briefings.
Federal prosecutors have accused Menendez of sharing sensitive information about the number and nationality of persons serving at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo with the Egyptian government. He shared the information through a co-defendant accused of paying bribes to the senator and his wife, prosecutors allege.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he will grant Menendez the “courtesy” of listening to what he has to say to the conference before rendering an opinion about his colleague’s future in the Senate.
“These are extremely damning charges, and I have seen the actions that Sen. Menendez took this morning,” Warner said when asked Menendez should be excluded from future classified briefing.
Menendez pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, fraud and extortion Wednesday morning.
“He’s asked to speak to the Democratic conference, I believe, tomorrow,” Warner added. “I’m going to grant him that courtesy, but I expect I’ll have much more to say afterwards.”
A spokesperson for Warner clarified that the Intelligence Committee does not control access to classified information.