Sen. Robert Menendez, the target of a federal probe into whether he used his influence to benefit a campaign donor and friend, said the Justice Department should be investigated for allowing leaks to the media regarding a possible criminal indictment in the next few weeks.
“All I can say is: leaks are in violation of the law,” the New Jersey Democrat told Politico on Tuesday. “And I hope there is an investigation as to however, whomever is conducting such leaks.”
Menendez is possibly facing corruption charges for his ties to Dominican ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, with scrutiny focused on the senator’s trips to the Caribbean island aboard the doctor’s private plane.
The senator has acknowledged several actions that could appear to have benefited Melgen, including contacting a Medicare agency to urge changes to a payment policy that had cost the doctor millions of dollars. But is fighting the corruption accusations, insisting he is honest.
“Let me be very clear, I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law," he said last week. "Every action that I and my office have taken for the last 23 years that I have been privileged to be in the United States Congress has been based on pursuing the best policies for the people of New Jersey and this entire country.”
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Menendez has refused to say if he would step down as ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if the indictment is handed down.
“Your question is based on supposition,” Menendez told Politico when asked if he would remain as ranking member after he’s officially charged. “And I am not going to engage in supposition.”
He said that, in the meantime, it will be business as usual, which on Tuesday included questioning witnesses at a committee hearing on Russia and Ukraine. He added that he would continue to be outspoken about his opinion of the U.S. government.
“I am going to be supportive when they do something positive, and when I don’t agree, I am going to be a critic,” Menendez said.