Sen. Bob Menendez, who is facing a federal indictment, says that he will be vindicated once he gets to tell his story in court. The New Jersey Democrat is facing bribery charges for allegedly accepting gifts from Florida Dr. Salomon Melgen. Dr. Melgin gave the gifts in exchange for the senator’s help with getting Medicare breaks, as well as a few visas for his girlfriends. “I know I will be vindicated and that I will win,” Menendez said.
Menendez was indicted on 14 counts of federal corruption on April 1. The indictment brings forth allegations that the senator allegedly used his office to help Dr. Melgen, who had showered him with close to $1 million in gifts. Some of the gifts included numerous flights on a private jet, a vacation at a resort in the Dominican Republic, and a stay in a five-star Paris hotel. In exchange for the gifts, Menendez allegedly tapped high-ranking federal officials on issues that were important to Dr. Melgen, including getting his model girlfriends their U.S. visas.
He has already acknowledged that he had taken actions that could benefit Melgen, but has insisted he did nothing wrong, and that his dealings with his friend were indicative of a 20-year friendship. He has also acknowledged that he had taken several flights to the Dominican Republic on Melgen’s jet that were not properly reimbursed initially, but since then have been.
Menendez said he would step aside from his role as top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if he was found guilty. He has also hinted at the possibility of invoking the Constitutional protections afforded to members of Congress while in office.
Menendez has been a critic of the Obama Administration for its recent relations with Cuba and a nuclear agreement with Iran. When asked if he thought his federal prosecution could be retribution for bucking Obama on foreign policy, Menendez did not flinch. He said that he could not imagine that an administration would go to such lengths to derail the Constitutional process. He also feels that he will have his day in court and be vindicated as justice prevails.
Menendez, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, voiced his displeasure towards President Barack Obama for releasing Cuban spies when the Castro regime freed American Alan Gross from prison. Menendez said that Obama’s actions have given Cuba vindication for all of their brutality. The senator has also helped sponsor a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran, a move that Obama said would undermine the groundwork that has been laid out with Tehran to end their nuclear weapons program.
Democratic supporters that work with Menendez also feel that he will be vindicated in court. Some have even offered the embroiled senator some words of encouragement. Chuck Schumer of New York said that he is one of the best legislators in the Senate and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey. Representative Albio Sires from New Jersey said that he is going to help Menendez the best he can, and that it is not in his blood to give up. His backers have launched a website to show their support IStandWithBob.com, as well as a twitter feed in an effort to get more people on the bandwagon to give him the needed support.
By Alec Rosenberg