U.S. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez has denied wrongdoing and vowed to stay in Congress
This Monday, prosecutors charged him and his wife with taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen.
Menendez’s stance defied calls from elected officials in his state of New Jersey, including the state’s Democratic governor, to step down.
His decision to remain in the Senate may complicate his party’s efforts to maintain their narrow 51-49 majority in that chamber.
Menendez has stepped down temporarily from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senate Democratic rules require any member charged with a felony to give up their leadership position, though they can take it back if they are found not guilty.
The 69-year-old senator, Menendez, in his first public remarks since he was charged said, “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,”, said
U.S. prosecutors said Menendez accepted gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for wielding his influence to aid the Egyptian government and interfere with law enforcement investigations into the three businessmen.
Prosecutors want Menendez to forfeit assets including his home, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz convertible and $566,000 in cash, gold bars and bank account funds.
Menendez said he has worked to hold countries, including Egypt, accountable for human rights abuses and that the cash in his home was withdrawn from his accounts and kept for emergencies.