Critics slam Senator’s claims of family history prompting decision as ‘shameless’ defense
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is facing intense criticism from across the political spectrum after attempting to justify keeping over $400,000 in cash stashed at his home, claiming family history of confiscation in Cuba was the motivating factor.
During a press conference on Monday, Menendez said his personal experience as the son of Cuban immigrants informed his unusual decision to withdraw “thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.”
However, many were quick to poke holes in the senator’s defense. Conservative commentators characterized the explanation as “shameless” and “rather pathetic”. Even some liberal voices expressed skepticism.
The backlash intensified as additional details emerged. Federal prosecutors alleged over $70k in cash was also found in Menendez’ wife’s safe deposit box. Gold bars and envelopes of money in the home contained fingerprints of associates, according to the indictment.
For many, the fresh claims only served to further undermine the credibility of Menendez’ family history defense. Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe questioned whether even mobsters keep money in such a manner.
The saga has escalated calls from prominent Democrats for Menendez to resign. However, he remains defiant, insisting on his right to due process and vowing to continue serving New Jersey in the Senate.
As the trial looms, scrutiny of Menendez’ explanations is unlikely to subside. For now, the once prominent senator faces an uphill battle to restore credibility after a defensive widely panned as “shameless” by critics from across the political spectrum. Whether voters accept his version of events could determine his political future.