Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) brusquely denied any wrongdoing in a press conference Friday evening responding to reports that he will face federal corruption charges.
Menendez gave a brief statement in both English and Spanish, then left without taking questions from reporters. “Let me be very clear, I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law,” he began.
“Every action that I and my office have taken for the last 23 years that I have been privileged to be in the United States Congress has been based on pursuing the best policies for the people of New Jersey and this entire country.”
Menendez boasted of his legislative record and his close friendship to Dr. Salomon Melgen, the Florida ophthalmologist and political donor who the FBI alleges has influenced Menendez’s dealings in the Senate.
“I am not going anywhere,” Menendez insisted and, citing the ongoing criminal investigation, said he could not comment further on the allegations or take questions from reporters.
The Senator’s communications director Tricia Enright sent a statement to the press very close to Menendez’s live remarks:
As we have said before, we believe all of the senator’s actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that. Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason.
The senator has counted Dr. Melgen as one of his closest personal friends for decades. The two have spent holidays together and have gone to each other’s family funerals and weddings and have exchanged personal gifts. As has been reported, the start of this investigation is suspect. We know many false allegations have been made about this matter, allegations that were ultimately publicly discredited. We also know that the official investigation of this matter is ongoing, and therefore cannot address allegations being made anonymously.
The press conference seemed rushed and haphazard; Menendez appeared almost 30 minutes late (an aide blamed traffic), and he encountered a sound glitch while delivering his statement in Spanish and had to restart it after his microphone began working again.