CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju confronted Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez on his attendance at a classified briefing while he is facing charges of assisting a foreign government.
Menendez attended a classified briefing on Ukraine on Wednesday morning amid growing concerns about the senator still serving in the chamber after being indicted on bribery offenses. Menendez and his wife, Nadine, allegedly accepted bribery money in exchange for providing sensitive information to the Egyptian government.
“You weren’t able to go to the last classified briefing because Schumer wouldn’t let you, why are you going to this classified briefing?” Raju asked.
“First of all, you’re wrong,” Menendez said. “He didn’t say ‘you can’t go,’ he didn’t not let me.”
“Why did you go to this classified briefing?” Raju asked.
“Because getting an update on Ukraine is something that’s worthy as we consider the supplemental,” Menendez answered.
“You’re being accused of aiding a foreign government. Why is that appropriate for you to go into a classified briefing?” Raju asked. (RELATED: ‘Come On’: Joe Scarborough Mocks Menendez’s Explanation For Having Gold Bars In His Home)
“The bottom line is, I’m a United States senator, I have my security credentials and an accusation is just that: it’s not proof of anything,” the senator replied.
The indictment against Menendez alleges $480,000 in cash and about $100,000 in gold bars were hidden around his home. The senator is accused of taking the money as bribes to help wield his political power to benefit the government of Egypt and business associates in New Jersey.
Menendez pleaded not guilty to the charges during an Oct. 23 hearing. The senator, a son of Cuban immigrants, said the cash belonged to his savings account and that it was kept “due to a history of property confiscations in Cuba.”
The senator stepped down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but has refused to resign as members of his own party have called for his resignation.