Schumer stands by ‘straight-shooter’ Menendez

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Sen. Chuck Schumer doesn't agree with the New York Times editorial board that Sen. Bob Menendez should step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee amid an investigation into Menendez's close ties to a Florida donor.

"I don't believe that," Schumer said this morning at a breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York. "I've dealt with him all the years, he's a straight shooter."

Menendez reportedly intervened on behalf of the donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, to help secure a port security deal in the Dominican Republican, and recently reimbursed Melgen for flights on a private plane that initially went unreported on his financial disclosure reports. Menendez has also been accused of soliciting prostitutes while in the Dominican Republic, though authorities have yet to find any substantiating evidence for those allegations.

Schumer, who is the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate leadership, said Menendez remains a key part of what Democrats are currently trying to accomplish.

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"He's really needed on both immigration and foreign affairs," said Schumer. "And I don't agree with the call for him to step down. He's not only a friend, I think he's a very good legislator."

Menendez has brushed off calls for his resignation and recently traveled to Afghanistan, where his woes might have been the butt of a joke from Hamid Karzai.