Embattled Senator Bob Menendez, facing 18 federal charges, is under mounting pressure from his congressional colleagues. Rep. Mikie Sherrill plans to introduce a bill that would prevent individuals charged with certain crimes from accessing classified information, with Menendez being the implicit target. The bill, known as the Guarding the United States Against Reckless Disclosures Act (GUARD Act), would apply to federal officials, candidates, and others charged with compromising national security or acting as foreign agents. Former President Donald Trump could also be affected by this legislation, as he has faced allegations of mishandling classified information and obstructing Congress.

Sherrill is introducing the GUARD Act to prevent individuals like Menendez and Trump, who are facing criminal charges, from accessing classified information. She believes that allowing such individuals access to sensitive information would be detrimental to national security. Menendez, who was accused of accepting gifts in exchange for using his influence as the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, has refused to resign despite calls from many of his Democratic colleagues. Sherrill insists that individuals facing serious charges like acting as foreign agents should not have access to classified information.

Senator Menendez’s colleague, Senator John Fetterman, has introduced a resolution to strip Menendez of his committee assignments and prohibit him from receiving classified information. However, this resolution has not yet gained traction. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has referred to Menendez’s legal problems as “serious allegations” but has stopped short of calling for his resignation. Sherrill did not coordinate her legislative efforts with Fetterman, but she is determined to prevent individuals like Menendez from having access to classified information.

Despite facing criticism and legal troubles, Menendez has announced his intent to run for re-election as an independent if he is cleared of charges. His trial is scheduled for May, and the deadline for filing as an independent candidate is June 4. Sherrill emphasizes the importance of having trustworthy leaders in office, especially in a time of political turmoil and uncertainty. She believes that individuals like Menendez, who have prioritized personal gain over national interests, should not be trusted with classified information. Sherrill’s GUARD Act would allow for exceptions on a case-by-case basis through majority votes in Congress, providing a potential checks and balance system.

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