During a press conference on Monday, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez said he would not resign following his indictment on federal bribery charges. Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife, Nadine, were indicted on Friday on allegations of accepting bribes, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, as well as using his position to benefit three New Jersey businessmen and the government of Egypt.
In his first public comments since the three-count federal indictment against him, the 69-year-old Menendez called for the public to wait for more information, dismissing the allegations and defending his record on fighting human rights abuses in Egypt. Menendez said Monday in Union City, where he started his political career: “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 New Jersey’s senior senator.”
Federal prosecutors in New York alleged the couple received hundreds of thousands of dollars and lavish luxury gifts in exchange for the senator using his influence to benefit three New Jersey business associates and the government of Egypt (the businessmen are also facing charges). Menendez argues that he has “remained steadfast on the side of civil society and human rights defenders in Egypt and everywhere else in the world … If you look at my actions related to Egypt during the period described in this indictment and throughout my whole career, my record is clear and consistent in holding Egypt accountable for its unjust detention of American citizens and others, its human rights abuses, its deepening relationship with Russia and efforts that have eroded the independence of the nation’s judiciary,.”
The indictment also said the FBI found $500,000 of cash kept in envelopes and jacket pockets throughout Menendez’s home during a search last year. The senator said he has withdrawn “thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings” over the last 30 years, “which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba. This may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal saving account, based on the income that I had lawfully derived over those 30 years.”
Menendez stepped down from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday, with colleagues on both sides of the aisle have called for him to resign from the Senate, including Democrats Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. However, Menendez said during his press conference: “Instead of waiting for all the facts to be presented, others have rushed to judgment seeking a political opportunity for themselves and those around them. All I ask for in this moment — is to pause and allow for all the facts to be presented.”
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