New Jersey senator declares his outrage hours after being indicted for corruption

AP889876143943AP/Julio CortezSen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey)

A visibly angry Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) held a combative press conference Wednesday evening to blast federal prosecutors for the corruption charges they had just leveled against him.

“For nearly three years, I’ve lived under a Justice Department cloud. And today I’m outraged that this cloud has not been lifted,” Menendez declared. “But I will not be silenced. I’m confident at the end of the day, I will be vindicated and they will be exposed.”

The powerful New Jersey Democrat took to the podium at the Newark, New Jersey, press conference to the loud cheers of his supporters, who frequently interrupted his statement with applause. At one point he asked his boosters to quiet down and let him speak.

Earlier in the day, the Department of Justice announced Menendez had been indicted on 14 counts, including bribery, conspiracy, fraud, and making false statements. Menendez is accused of providing a slew of government favours to one of his top financial supporters, Salomon Melgen, a Florida doctor who was also indicted Wednesday.

But Menendez insisted that his financial ties to Melgen were due to their personal friendship, not a series of bribes.

“I have always conducted myself in accordance with the law,” he said. “Prosecutors at the Justice Department don’t know the difference between friendship and corruption.”

Menendez said he began his career fighting corruption and at one point wore a bullet proof vest and received death threats as a result. He also predicted that the Justice Department will lose its case and vindicate his claims of innocence.

“They are dead wrong and I am confident that they will be proven so. And I’m gratified to live in a country where prosecutors’ mistakes can be corrected by courts and juries,” he said. “New Jersey is my home and I intend to continue to fight for it.”

He left without taking questions.

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