Mr. Menendez argues that all the back-scratching was not criminal, but rather what good friends are supposed to do for each other. He’s certainly entitled to make that case to a jury. Considering the breadth and nature of the allegations, though, it’s hard to imagine that he will have enough time to adequately represent his constituents while he braces for a legal fight that could drag on for years.
Here's the nut graph:
Mr. Menendez is evidently not in a hurry to get to the stage of contrition, having warned on Wednesday that he’s “not going anywhere.” He would be doing a disservice to New Jersey by clinging to power as a disgraced politician. His colleagues in the Senate should demand that he step aside.
That failure to be contrite appears to have galled the editorial board, and it's not hard to see why. The "not going anywhere" comment came from his news conference a few hours after the indictment became public. On Thursday, he unveiled a video arguing for his own innocence. There's a Web site, too, IStandWithBob.com, paid for by Menendez for Senate.
(Close readers of the indictment may wryly note a bit of overlap. One of the charges against Menendez involves his soliciting money from Florida opthalmalogist Salomon Melgen for his legal defense fund. That fund was called the Fund to Uphold the Constitution.)
Expecting Menendez to roll over, though, seems pretty optimistic. The Times (and New Yorkers, of whom I am one) tend to get a bit haughty about the rough-hewn land across the Hudson. But this is a state that twice elected the aggressively mean Chris Christie, that leads the country in crooks-per-politician. Menendez has been aggressive from the start in responding to the charges (even when they were rumors).
It seems unlikely that will change soon.