Bob Menendez, Democratic senator for New Jersey, defended his innocence on Monday in his first public appearance after being indicted last week along with his wife on federal corruption charges, accused of receiving bribes from businessmen.
"All people are innocent until proven guilty. I do not ask for anything more nor do I deserve anything less," the senator said at a press conference and insisted that "prosecutors can be wrong, sadly, I know that."
The official acknowledged that the "charges are serious," but that "they are just that: allegations." Research, he said, is the most important challenge of his career.
[Gold bars and wads of bills: The details of the indictment of Senator Bob Menendez that seem to be taken from The Sopranos]
The Justice Department announced Friday that the Democratic senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were indicted as a result of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams' investigation into alleged corruption. The year-long investigation focused on investigating his relationship with three New Jersey businessmen who allegedly gave them gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Williams detailed in a press conference last Friday that the FBI raided Menendez's home in 2022 and found gold bars, a Mercedes Benz car and $ 500,000 in cash.
Menendez said the money found is part of his salary and comes from cash withdrawals from his "personal savings accounts," an "ancient" practice, he said, that comes from his past with confiscations in Cuba, he explained.
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The senator defended his work as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and his position on matters concerning Egypt, detailing his work during the years in which the investigation was framed.
The prosecutor explained that, between 2018 and 2022, the defendants allegedly "maintained a corrupt relationship" with the three businessmen and that the official used his power, influence and leadership to enrich them. He also accused him of aiding Egypt and providing information from the federal government.