NJ Sen. Menendez Explains Cash Hoard For First Time, Says He’ll Be ‘Exonerated’
UNION CITY — Appearing publicly for the first time since federal prosecutors unveiled an indictment against him, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said the hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash found at his home was from his personal savings, not from bribes.
"The allegations leveled against me are just that — allegations,” Menendez said Monday morning. He said that prosecutors had the facts wrong and had twisted the facts to be as "salacious as possible."
The charges against Menendez
Federal prosecutors unsealed the indictment against Menendez on Friday, accusing the three-term Senator and his wife Nadine Arslanian of taking bribes including $100,000 in gold bars, nearly $500,000 in cash, and a Mercedes-Benz luxury car.
Officials said that in exchange, Menendez provided officials in Egpyt with sensitive information and helped the county to convince other U.S. senators to lift a hold on $300 million in aid for its increasingly authoritarian government. The charging documents also claim he tried to derail a criminal investigation into an associate.
Menendez addresses the cash for first time
Menedez said he was "old fashioned" and had withdrawn from his personal savings accounts the hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash found in jackets at his home.
He did not specifically address the other accusations at the appearance in Union City, the Hudson County city where he was raised by Cuban immigrants and first rose to power as a school board member and then mayor.
Menendez did not respond to questions even as reporters clamored to ask about the gold bars and Mercedes.
Will Menendez run for re-election in 2024?
Although published reports said that Menendez would announce a 2024 run to keep his Senate seat, he did not address a potential 2024 campaign at his appearance.
However, the 69-year-old Democrat did hint that he would remain in office at the end of a possible trial, which could take place in 2025.
“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 will still be New Jersey’s senior senator," Menendez said.
Top Dems call on Menendez to resign
Several New Jersey Democrats including Gov. Phil Murphy and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-NJ, 19th District, have called on Menendez to resign.
One Democrat quickly jumped at the opportunity to see the senator vacate his office.
U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., 3rd District, on Saturday announced he would run in the 2024 primary to challenge Menendez if he did not resign.
Demands for Menendez to resign have also come from several Democrats in New Jersey's House Delegation including Reps. Donald Norcross, Josh Gottheimer, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, Mikie Sherrill and Bonnie Watson Coleman.
However, other Democrats including Cory Booker, New Jersey's other senator, have not called on Menendez to resign.
Menendez's son, U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez D-N.J., 8th District, has also not called on his father to step down.