Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) on Thursday challenged the Department of Justice to either prosecute him again on corruption charges or drop its case.
Menendez said in an interview that he has the ability to present a motion calling on the department to prosecute or dismiss the charges by mid-January, the Associated Press reports. Menendez was tried in a New Jersey federal court this September for corruption charges, including bribery, involving his relationship with florida doctor Salomon Melgen. The jury, however, was not able to come to a decision, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial and giving Menendez the opportunity to claim vindication.
"We would have the ability to present a motion to say prosecute or dismiss," Menendez said about the department’s charges. "And if you want to prosecute, bring it on."
Menendez argued the fact ten of the twelve jurors did not believe the prosecutors’ case means "the end" of the federal case against him.
"They didn't believe in the facts; they had some really harsh words for the government," Menendez said about the jurors. "You can have a hung jury that's 10-2 against you and two people just couldn't agree, but when it's 10-2 for you—and it's not just the numbers, it's what they said about the government's case—I believe that's the end of it."
Menendez added that he still maintains a close relationship with Melgen and his family.
"I still have the greatest affection for them, and I wish him well," he said.
Menendez also said he expects to be restored to his committee position in the Senate once he is totally cleared of charges.
He said he "fully expects" to go back to being the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The New Jersey Democrat also declared he has "a commitment from the leadership" it will happen.
The Washington Post did not receive comment about those claims from the offices of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) or Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), who has held Menendez’s position on the Foreign Relations Committee since Menendez stepped aside.
Schumer did name Menendez to a conference committee on tax reform last week, prompting National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Katie Martin to argue Schumer was not taking the matter seriously.
"Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats showed how unserious they are by naming an accused felon to the conference committee," Martin said. "Bob Menendez has embarrassed his state and the Senate, but Chuck Schumer seems to think he’s the perfect person to negotiate on Senate Democrats’ behalf."
At the time of his mistrial, Menendez warned that those who opposed him would face consequences.
"To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are, and I won't forget you," he said in November. The senator claims those words have now become a rallying cry for his supporters.
He told reporters on Thursday about a Jersey City woman who sold patches with that full quote as well as "This is Resurrection Day," which Menendez also said after the mistrial was declared.
"When my staffer went to go buy one, there was a line and the lady told us she has sold 800 of these at $10 a piece," Menendez said about the patches. "So, I’m a job creator."
The Democratic senator said he did not want to elaborate on the people he accused of digging his "political grave."
"I know who they are, they know who they are, and they know I know who they are—and that’s all that matters," he said.
He also endorsed his fellow New Jersey Democratic senator, Cory Booker, who defended him publicly throughout the trail, for president. Booker has often been listed among possible 2020 Democratic hopefuls, but has dodged questions on whether he plans to run.
"He’s somebody who has unlimited potential. He just has to decide whether that’s what he wants to do," Menendez said.