Updated Sep 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Menendez says he will not resign following bribery charges

: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) questions witnesses about the ongoing war in Ukraine during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on January 26, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Jan. 26 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Monday in his first public appearance since his indictment on bribery charges that he will not resign his seat.

Why it matters: The three-term senator has dismissed a chorus of calls for his resignation, saying they've been made for "political reasons."

  • Menendez is already expected to see a challenge from Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) over his seat.

Driving the news: "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 the New Jersey's [sic] senior senator," Menendez said during a press conference Monday.

  • "The allegations leveled against me are just that — allegations," Menendez said.

Zoom in: The Friday indictment alleged that FBI special agents discovered approximately $500,000 of cash stuffed into envelopes and closets at Menendez's New Jersey home.

  • Menendez on Monday disputed that the cash was part of the alleged bribery scheme, saying the money was from his "personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba."
  • "This may seem old-fashioned but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account based on the income that I have lawfully derived," he said.
  • He also said that "those who now are attempting to malign my actions as it relates to Egypt, simply don't know the facts."
  • He is accused by federal prosecutors in New York of using his role to benefit the government of Egypt, including by providing "sensitive U.S. government information."

State of play: Menendez and his wife were charged Friday with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.

  • The indictment accuses Menendez of accepting "hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for using" his "power and influence" to enrich a trio of businessmen.

Zoom out: Menendez faces growing calls to resign from nearly half the Democrats in his state's congressional delegation, as well as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and other Democrats in Congress.

  • Menendez resigned from his post as chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday.

What to watch: Menendez said during the Monday press conference that he will return to Washington this week.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details from the press conference.

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