Menendez to step down from leadership role
Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Tensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy Senate Democrats ramp up push to limit Biden's war powers MORE (D-N.J.) announced Wednesday he will temporarily step down as the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, after he was indicted on 14 counts of corruption
 
Caucus rules don't force him to step aside, but he believes it is "in the best interests of the Committee, my colleagues, and the Senate," the New Jersey Democrat said in a letter to Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidStrange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists Bottom line Biden's first 100 days is stylistic 'antithesis' of Trump MORE (D-Nev.). 
 
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Menendez said he plans to remain a member of the committee and to eventually regain his spot as the top Democratic member. 
 
"I want to affirm our understanding that I will once again ascend to the Ranking Member position ... upon successful resolution of the allegations before me," he wrote in the letter, adding that in the meantime, he intends to "fully participate in, and pursue the issues that I have been passionate about." 
 
Reid thanked Menendez for temporarily stepping aside, adding that the New Jersey Democrat "should not be judged until he has his day in court." 
 
"I appreciate Senator Menendez's willingness to temporarily step down as ranking member," Reid said in a statement. "He has been a consistent champion for the middle class. As I have said about both Democrats and Republicans, our justice system is premised on the principle of innocent until proven guilty and Senator Menendez should not be judged until he has his day in court."
 
Menendez held a press conference Wednesday night in Newark, N.J., where he did not address reports he would temporarily step aside. 
 
He was charged earlier Wednesday with 14 counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud, in connection with his relationship to Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and political donor. 
 
 
"I believe it was the right decision for Senator Menendez to step aside from his committee leadership post until the matter is resolved," he said in a statement.
 
Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement to The Hill ahead of Menendez's press conference that while he has "no knowledge of the judicial matters at hand," he expects the New Jersey Democrat "will continue to play a constructive role."