New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez held a press conference Monday morning at the Hudson County Community College in Union City, where his political career began. He stood in defense against the allegations presented by prosecutors that he and his wife accepted bribery of “hundred of thousand of dollars” in cash and gold bars including other extravagant bribes.
“I understand how deeply concerning this can be, however the allegations leveled against me are just that, allegations,” said Menendez.
The senator emphasized that all people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. He asked for his colleagues in Congress, the elected leaders and advocates of New Jersey and New Jersey residents, to take the time to let all the facts present themselves.
“I ask for nothing more and deserve nothing less,” he said.
New Jersey resident Christina Masella agrees with the senator, he “deserves the right like anyone else” to prove his innocence until found guilty. However, she understands this is not his first time being accused of corruption.
“Growing up in Hudson County, Menendez is like a god. He has the support of the people,” she told Slice of Culture. “Hudson County is known for corruption, just like our mayor Stack… He is a native of Hudson County so the allegations are not far fetch, but he has done a lot for the people of Hudson County so that helps.”
Since the allegations were presented Friday morning, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy asked the senator for his resignation stating “the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state.”
The senator addressed the people of New Jersey stating that they are the reason why he has put much dedication in improving the lives of hard working New Jerseyans and Americans.
While Menendez has been credited for doing so much for the community, as stated during the press conference, Marvin Alas, a West New York resident, doesn’t know if his past work will be enough to keep support locked in.
“He has helped a lot in the Hispanic community, but once they find you taking bribes people are going to think twice once elections comes. He may be innocent, but voters will think otherwise,” he told Slice of Culture.
The senator called out to those who have rushed to judgment on the allegations as a “political opportunity for themselves or those around them.”
“Some of the people calling for my resignation for political reasons say I have lost the trust of the people of New Jersey,” he said. “That couldn’t be more wrong.”
A day after the indictment, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Andy Kim announced he will run next year against Menendez. The senator did not address running for reelection in 2024 during the press conference, but stated he intends to stay in office.
“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 still will be New Jersey’s Senior Senator,” he said.
During the press conference, where he did not answer any press questions, the senator addressed the cash found in his home during a court search in 2022.
“For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba,” the senator said.
“Now, this may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years. I look forward to addressing other issues at trial.”
The indictment states that federal agents discovered $480,000 in cash and about $100,000 worth in gold bars. The indictment also alleges that Menendez provided sensitive U.S. government information to Egypt and pushed for other senators to lift a $300 million aid hold on the country.
With his relations to Egypt, the senator defended, “If you look at my actions related to Egypt during the period described in this indictment, and throughout my whole career, my record is clear and consistent in holding Egypt accountable for its unjust detention of American citizens and others, its human rights abuses, its deepening relationship with Russia, and efforts that have eroded the independence of the nation’s judiciary, among a myriad of concerns.”
The senator and other defendants are set for a court appearance on Wednesday. He is expecting to return to Washington D.C. this week.