WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey suggested Monday that hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash seized by federal investigators from his home as part of a probe that led to his bribery indictment came from his personal savings account.
“I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, what I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba,” Menendez said during a press conference in Union, New Jersey.
“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,” the Democrat added.
He again said he had no plans to resign from the Senate, despite calls that he do so from Gov. Phil Murphy and other leading New Jersey Democrats.
Menendez, 69, and his wife, Nadine, were indicted on federal bribery charges in New York last week.
Prosecutors accused the couple of accepting bribes including cash, gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz car and mortgage payments from three New Jersey businessmen, who also have been charged in the case.
Investigators armed with a warrant to search Menendez’s home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, last year found more than $480,000 in cash “hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe,” according to the three-count indictment in Manhattan federal court.
Menendez on Monday, in about 25 minutes of remarks made in English and Spanish, did not address the gold bars found in his home. That gold is worth an estimated $155,000.
“Prosecutors get it wrong sometimes,” he said.
“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,” Menendez said.
He did not answer any questions from reporters at the event.
The indictment accuses Menendez of giving “sensitive” U.S. government information to the government of Egypt, and taking other steps that aided that nation.
It also alleges that he tried to use his position to affect criminal probes of two of the businessmen, and pressured a U.S. Agriculture Department official to protect a business monopoly in Egypt for the third businessman.
Menendez on Friday called the charges “an active smear campaign.”
“I am not going anywhere,” Menendez said then. “Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty. I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades.”
Over the weekend, Menendez hired attorney Abbe Lowell to represent him in the case.
Lowell represented Menendez at his federal corruption trial in 2017, which ended with a jury deadlocked on charges. Prosecutors later dropped that case.
Lowell also is currently defending President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on federal tax and firearm charges.