Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2-ranking Senate Democrat, called on embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to resign Wednesday.
Durbin had declined to call for Menedez to step down during a television interview Sunday but he changed course Wednesday after 22 Senate Democrats called for Menendez to leave office.
“Leaders in New Jersey, including the Governor and my Senate colleague Cory Booker, have made it clear that Sen. Menendez can no longer serve. He should step down,” Durbin wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took a more cautious approach to his New Jersey colleague’s legal problems during a television interview Sunday.
“This is a very serious charge. There’s no question about it. But it bears reminding us of what I’ve said about the indictments against Donald Trump, equally serious charges,” Durbin told CNN’s Dana Bash when asked whether Menendez should resign.
“These are, in fact, indictments that have to be proven. Under the rule of law, a person who is accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence. And it’s the responsibility of the government to prove that case,” he said.
Durbin’s statement follows a similar change of heart by another member of the Senate Democratic leadership.
“The allegations against Senator Bob Menendez are very concerning,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), the chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and No. 3 Senate Democrat, said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“While he deserves his presumption of innocence, I believe it’s best for him to step down from the U.S. Senate,” she said.
Stabenow had previously held off from calling for Menendez’s ouster.
The moves by Durbin and Stabenow put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to join the growing chorus of Senate Democrats calling on Menendez to resign from office.
Schumer on Friday said the New Jersey senator “has a right to due process and a fair trial.”
Updated at 10:32 a.m. ET