Sen. Bob Menendez won’t run in N.J. Democratic primary, may seek reelection as independent if cleared in bribery case


Sen. Bob Menendez says he won’t seek re-election in Democratic primary


Sen. Bob Menendez says he won’t seek re-election in Democratic primary

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Washington — Indicted Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, announced Thursday that he won’t run in the Democratic primary as he faces allegations he traded his political influence for money, but said he could seek reelection as an independent if he’s exonerated.

“I will not file for the Democratic primary this June. I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election,” Menendez said in a video shared on YouTube.

Menendez was indicted on federal corruption charges in September and has been defiant against calls to resign, though he did step down from his powerful chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee. 

The charges allege Menendez and his wife, Nadine, accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes, including cash, furniture and gold bars, while using his power and influence to enrich and protect three New Jersey businessmen and benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar. 

In the months since, superseding indictments alleged Menendez and his wife conspired to act as a foreign agent for Egypt and accepted expensive gifts in exchange for favorable comments about Qatar. The latest indictment unsealed in March accused the duo of obstructing the investigation into the scheme. 

Menendez and his wife have pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Their trial is set to begin in May.


Latest Bob Menendez indictment alleges he took gifts linked to Qatar investment

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Although Menendez has faced calls to resign or retire before, the indictment in this case brought the biggest threat to his political future, prompting a slew of New Jersey Democrats to call for his resignation, including Gov. Phil Murphy.

“Unfortunately, the present accusations I am facing, of which I am innocent and will prove so, will not allow me to have that type of dialogue and debate with political opponents that have already made it the cornerstone of their campaign,” Menendez said. 

A fierce primary is already underway to replace Menendez in the Senate, with Rep. Andy Kim and New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy topping the field of contenders vying for the Democratic nomination. 

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has stopped short of calling for Menendez to resign, he has said the “Senate has certain standards that we must live up to” and that he is “disappointed” that Menendez has not “lived up to those standards.” 

In his video statement, Menendez acknowledged the disappointment but indicated he has no plans to step down from Congress. 

“I know many of you are hurt and disappointed in me with the accusations I’m facing,” he said. “Believe me, I am disappointed at the false accusations as well. All I can ask of you is to withhold judgment until justice takes place. Until then, I will continue to work my heart out each and every day, as I have for the past 19 years to fight for New Jersey, for you, your family, in a more prosperous, secure future.” 



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