Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) asserted during a Sept. 25 press briefing that the accusations leveled against him by prosecutors are categorically false, and the evidence found in his home was money kept on hand due to his family’s history with communism. The lawmaker did not address whether he would seek reelection next year.
Mr. Menendez defiantly refuted federal corruption charges on Monday, claiming that the cash discovered in his home was from his savings account and kept for emergencies, not bribe money, asking for the presumption of innocence in his case.
“A cornerstone of the foundation of American democracy and our justice system is the principle that all people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. All people,” Mr. Menendez told a group of reporters at Hudson County Community College’s campus in Union City. “I asked for nothing more and deserve nothing less. The court of public opinion is no substitute for our revered justice system.”
The lawmaker stated that he believed he would be exonerated and that sometimes prosecutors get the facts wrong: “I recognize this will be the biggest fight yet, but as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be the New Jersey’s senior senator.”
Mr. Menendez made his comments at Hudson County Community College’s campus in Union City, where he grew up, referencing his family history to explain what was found during a search of his residence.
“Four 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies, and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba,” Mr. Menendez said. “Now, this may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years,”
The lawmaker also said that he would “look forward to addressing other issues at trial.”
Mr. Menendez was indicted for bribery, U.S. prosecutors announced on Sept. 22. Mr. Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were indicted on accusations of bribing three New Jersey businessmen.
The Epoch Times has obtained documents (pdf) alleging that Mr. Menendez and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. The bribes included cash, gold, and mortgage payments, according to officials. In June 2022, while executing a search warrant at the Menendez residence, the authorities seized a portion of the gold and currency.
In exchange for the bribes, Mr. Menendez, at the time, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, allegedly used his power and influence to “protect and enrich” the businessmen and Egypt, which receives more than $1 billion in grants and military equipment sales annually from the U.S. government.
These alleged actions included providing sensitive, non-public information to the Egyptian government and pressuring a top official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to safeguard a monopoly secured by one of the businessmen.
Following the accusations on Friday, Mr. Menendez stated that he would not resign from the Senate despite mounting demands from fellow Democrats for him to do so in light of a bribery indictment. However, he has resigned from his influential chairman position in the Senate.
Late Friday, Mr. Menendez made a statement in response to calls for his resignation, defending his decision to remain in office.
“Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,” Mr. Menendez said in a statement, adding that he would “continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades.”
“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat,” he added. “I am not going anywhere.”
On the same day as the senator stated he would not resign his office, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that Mr. Menendez would step down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in response to mounting calls for his resignation.
“Bob Menendez has been a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey. He has a right to due process and a fair trial,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “Senator Menendez has rightly decided to step down temporarily from his position as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee until the matter has been resolved.”
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) has announced he’s seeking to run in 2024 for the seat of incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
“After calls to resign, Senator Menendez said ‘I am not going anywhere.’ As a result, I feel compelled to run against him. Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better,” Mr. Kim announced on Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity. Please join me,” he added. The X post linked to an ActBlue fundraising site for Mr. Kim’s campaign.
“I grew up in New Jersey and am proud to raise my family here,” Mr. Kim said in a statement on the website. “I believe more than ever that New Jersey needs hard working, trustworthy leaders focused on the common good and injecting some integrity and civility back into our politics.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times