Sen. Menendez: Not once have I dishonored my office

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

The corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez began Wednesday in Newark.

He offered brief remarks to a crowd of reporters before heading into court:

“Good morning. I have committed my entire adult life, since I was 19, to fighting for the people of New Jersey. Never, not once, not once, have I dishonored my public office. I have spent decades giving voice to those who are voiceless, to Sandy victims trying to recover, to children and families to get them health care, to making sure that working families had a real shot at the American dream, making sure that young people could graduate from college without being under a mountain of debt, working hard to make sure that seniors, like my late mother could live with dignity in the twilight of their life, fighting to make sure that those families who have a challenge with someone in their lives with autism could meet that challenge. That is how I spent decades giving voice to those people.

I have never backed away from a fight that I didn’t believe was right, even if it meant opposing my own president or my own party. That’s simply who I am, and I’m not going to stop now. Now the Constitution, like any citizen, gives me the right to ultimately assist in my defense in court, and I intend to be here every day. The Constitution also gives me a right to cast a vote on behalf of the people I represent in the United States Senate. When the conflict exists if it becomes a conflict, a clash between those constitutional rights, I will make a decision based upon the gravity of the situation and the difference that my vote could make.

Finally, I appreciate my family, my son and daughter being here with me today. I appreciate all of my supporters, who have stood by me as I try to clear my name. I am thankful for the countless New Jerseyans that have either called me or called my office to say they have my back as I have had theirs. I started my public career fighting corruption. That’s how I started. And I have always acted in accordance with the law. And I believe when all of the facts are known, I will be vindicated. Thank you very much.”

Following the statement, Menendez’s Press Secretary Steven Sandberg said, “After this, all the talking will be inside the courtroom.”