U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, charged with taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, has denied any wrongdoing and made it clear he intends to fight the charges and stay in Congress.
Menendez is serving as one of New Jersey’s two senators and has been an important ally to fellow Democrat, President Joe Biden, including working with the president to rally support for sending aid to Ukraine.
The senator is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gold bars to benefit the Egyptian government and of interfering with investigations into the three businessmen.
Many have called on Menendez to resign from his position in the Senate, including members of his own party, notably New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who would name a temporary replacement if Menendez resigns.
Menendez has stepped down temporarily from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has stated that the New Jersey senator has the right to due process.
Menendez spoke at a press conference Monday in Union City, New Jersey, where he reiterated that he has no intentions to relinquish his role as senator, and that he is innocent of the charges brought against him.
“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,” Menendez said.
He said the cash that authorities found in his home had been drawn from his personnel accounts and were not bribe proceeds. Menendez also addressed his relationship with Egypt, saying he has held that government accountable for alleged human rights violations.
Menendez asked that everyone wait for the investigation to play out before casting judgment and accused those who were ready to judge him of seeking their own political benefit.
“Instead of waiting for all the facts to be presented, others have rushed to judgment because they see a political opportunity for themselves or those around them,” Menendez said.
Some information in this report came from Reuters.