U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-10) says he’s “extremely disappointed” about the allegations in U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s federal indictment, but stopped short of asking him to resign.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I am extremely disappointed to hear about the corruption charges against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez,” Payne said in a statement this afternoon.
“The allegations made in the federal indictment are very serious, but it is critical to remember that Americans are innocent until proven guilty. I trust the American legal system will resolve this issue and that Senator Menendez will act in the best interests of the people of New Jersey.”
The entire New Jersey congressional delegation has now weighed in on the Menendez case, with the exception of U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11), a potential Senate candidate, lead the call amongst federal representatives for Menendez to step down, doing so on Friday evening.
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) is the only member besides Payne who didn’t ask for him to resign.
The three-count indictment charges Menendez and his wife with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color and official right.
They are accused of having a “corrupt relationship” with New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes. Those three are charged with the first two counts.
Today, Menendez held a press conference reiterating his stance from Friday that he will not be stepping down and also denounced the notion that he acted improperly with the government of Egypt.
He is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, though he is said he will vacate that post, while Hana owns the Edgewater-based meat company IS EG Halal, which has the only contract with Egypt through the USDA that allows them to certify all imported halal meat.
He also had a unique explanation for why he had so much cash in his Englewood Cliffs home.
“For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars, in cash, from my personal savings account – which I have kept for emergencies and because of my family’s history of facing confiscation in Cuba.”
“This may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account based on my income I have lawfully derived over those 30 years. I look forward to addressing other issues at trial.”
Overall, the indictment charges that the Menendezes accepted corrupt payments for their mortgage, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300, $486,471 in cash, another $79,760 from the safe deposit box, two one-kilogram gold bars, and 11 one-ounce gold bars.
On Friday morning, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York Damien Williams said the investigation is “very much ongoing.”