WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), facing potential criminal charges, said Friday night he has always behaved appropriately and "in accordance with the law" and that "I am not going anywhere."
Menendez spoke briefly in Newark Friday amid reports that federal prosecutors are readying corruption charges against him. CNN first reported the news Friday afternoon. After a brief statement, Menendez said he could not take questions because of the ongoing investigation.
The charges have been signed off on by Attorney General Eric Holder and could come within weeks, CNN reported, citing people briefed on the case. A Department of Justice spokesman said he could not confirm nor deny the report, declinging to comment any further.
A Menendez spokeswoman said the senator has acted appropriately.
"As we have said before, we believe all of Senator's actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that," the spokeswoman, Tricia Enright, wrote in a statemetn. "Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason."
The charges would center on Menendez's relationship with a Florida eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, a major donor to the senator. Melgen and Menendez's relationship came under scrutiny in 2013 when it was revealed that the senator had taken trips to the Dominican Republic on Melgen's private plane, without disclosing them. He later repaid $58,000 for the 2010 flights.
Other reports showed that Menendez had also sought to aid Melgen in government entanglements, including as the doctor became embroiled in a dispute over Medicare billing, and appeared to try to help Melgen during a business dispute he had.
"The Senator has counted Dr. Melgen as one of his closest personal friends for decades," Enright, Menendez's spokeswoman, said in her statement. "The two have spent holidays together and have gone to each other's family funerals and weddings and have exchanged personal gifts. As has been reported, the start of this investigation is suspect. We know many false allegations have been made about this matter, allegations that were ultimately publicly discredited. We also know that the official investigation of this matter is ongoing, and therefore cannot address allegations being made anonymously."
Menendez has risen in prominence in recent years, becoming a key figure on immigration reform and, until recently, chairing the Senate Foreign Relations committee, a post that gave him international standing on issues such as Iran, the Ukraine and conflict in the Middle East.
He has been a key player in the bipartisan push to impose new sanctions on Iran.