US Senator, Bob Menendez, steadfastly rejected accusations of corruption, Monday, rejecting calls from fellow Democrats to step down from Congress after he was indicted for a second time last week, Anadolu Agency reports.
Addressing reporters in his native New Jersey, Menendez maintained his innocence, saying “prosecutors get it wrong sometimes,” and stressed that “the court of public opinion is no substitute for our revered justice system”.
“I firmly believe that with all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior Senator,” he said.
“We cannot set aside the presumption of innocence for political expediency when the harm is irrevocable. For those who have rushed to judgment, you have done so based on a limited set of facts framed by the Prosecution to be as salacious as possible,” added Menendez.
Menendez has faced a growing litany of calls for his resignation from the federal legislature, including from his fellow Democrats. He temporarily stepped aside from his chairmanship of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee after charges were announced last week.
Menendez and his wife were indicted, Friday, on bribery charges following a federal investigation into their relationships with a trio of New Jersey businessmen.
The Senator is accused of participating in a number of corrupt acts that benefited himself, his wife, the Egyptian government and businessmen.
Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that from 2018 to 2022, Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, “engaged in a corrupt relationship” with New Jersey real estate tycoon, Fred Daibes, halal certification businessman, Wael Hana and New Jersey businessman, Jose Uribe.
Investigators found over $486,000 in cash when they did a search of the Menendez’s home and safety deposit box in June 2022, “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe,” according to the indictment unsealed Friday.
Menendez defended his decision to store the high volume of cash and gold at his residence, saying he kept it “for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.” The future Senator was born to a Cuban immigrant family.
A federal grand jury has returned a three-count indictment charging Menendez, his wife, Daibes, Uribe, and Hana with conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. The Senator and his wife are additionally charged with extortion.
The indictment is the second against Menendez during his decades-long career in public service.