Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey has rejected calls for his resignation following his indictment on federal bribery charges. In his first public comments on the allegations, Menendez maintained his innocence and vowed to fight the charges.
“I recognize this will be the biggest fight yet,” Menendez said, adding, “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.”
Menendez and his wife, Nadine, have been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Federal prosecutors in New York allege that 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 indictment also stated that federal agents found stacks of cash hidden throughout Menendez’s home during a search last year. Menendez defended this, saying he had withdrawn “thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings” over the last 30 years, which he kept for emergencies and due to his family’s history of facing confiscation in Cuba.
Menendez emphasized that he would address the other allegations at trial. He has denied the charges and resisted calls for his resignation.
The senator stepped down temporarily as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as required under Senate Democratic Caucus rules. Menendez says he remains focused on his duties on behalf of New Jersey’s residents, including efforts to prevent a government shutdown.
His fellow New Jersey Democratic Senator, Cory Booker, has not yet commented on the matter. Only one Democratic senator, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, has called for Menendez’s resignation.
Menendez has served as senator since 2006 and is up for reelection in 2024. Democratic Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey has announced a primary challenge against Menendez.
Prominent Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have called for Menendez’s resignation, but he urged his colleagues and the people of New Jersey to allow all the facts to be presented before making judgments.
Menendez previously faced charges in 2015, including bribery and conspiracy, which ended in a mistrial.