Embattled Sen. Bob Menendez says he won’t file for Democratic primary, may run as independent: ‘I’m innocent’

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on Thursday said he would not be filing for the Democratic primary and signaled he was open to running as an independent, despite facing federal corruption charges.  In a video address, Menendez said the “present accusations” he now faces prevent him from meaningfully engaging with his political opponents who “have already made it the cornerstone of their campaign.””New Jerseyans deserve better than that. You deserve to hear from those who wish to represent you about what they would do for you and your families in the future. Therefore, I will not file for the Democratic primary this June,” Menendez said. “I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election.”  Running an independent campaign, Menendez said, would grant him time to “remind New Jerseyans of how I have succeeded in being your champion [and] how we will secure our financial futures.”TOP DEMOCRAT IN TIGHT SENATE RACE BACKS CITIZENSHIP, VOTING RIGHTS FOR MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS”I know many of you are here and disappointed in me with the accusations I’m facing. Believe me, I am disappointed at the false accusations as well. All I can ask of you is to withhold judgment until justice takes place,” Menendez said.  HILLARY CLINTON WADES INTO CRUCIAL BATTLEGROUND SENATE RACE THAT COULD DETERMINE BALANCE OF POWERThe video comes as the Democratic Senator is fighting federal bribery charges, along with his wife, Nadine, and three business associates. Menendez and his spouse are charged with taking bribes of gold bars, cash and a Mercedes-Benz in return for the senator’s help with projects pursued by three New Jersey businessmen. In return, Menendez helped one of the men get a lucrative meat-certification deal with Egypt, taking actions favorable to the Egyptian government, prosecutors said. An additional indictment said Menendez helped another associate get a deal with a Qatari investment fund.Menendez has denied any wrong-doing. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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