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Reporter Confronts Sen. Menendez Over Attending Classified Briefing Despite Foreign Agent Charge

  A reporter confronted Sen.   Robert “Bob” Menendez   (D-NJ) on Wednesday over the senator’s attendance at a classified briefing on Ukraine...

 A reporter confronted Sen. Robert “Bob” Menendez (D-NJ) on Wednesday over the senator’s attendance at a classified briefing on Ukraine despite facing charges of improper ties to Egypt, including conspiring to be a foreign agent of that country while in office.

Manu Raju, who covers Congress for CNN, caught up with the lawmaker on Capitol Hill, asking Menendez about his attendance after the senator missed a classified briefing on Israel two weeks ago.

In posing his question, Raju said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) did not let Menendez attend the earlier briefing, which prompted the New Jersey Democrat to snap back.

“First of all, you’re wrong about that. He didn’t say, ‘You can’t go’ … he didn’t not let me,” Menendez said. The senator said he attended the latest briefing “because getting an update on Ukraine is something that’s worthy as we consider the supplemental.”

Raju kept up the pressure, saying, “You’re being accused of aiding a foreign government.” He followed up by asking, “Why is it appropriate for you to go to a classified briefing?”

Menendez responded, “You know, Manu, I know you’ve got to make news. 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 from New Jersey has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring to act as a foreign agent of the Egyptian government as well as related charges over an Egypt-related bribery scheme that allegedly involved his wife and others.

Menendez stepped down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which Schumer said Menendez was doing “temporarily” until the legal matter gets resolved.


Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who took on the chairmanship of the panel in September, said Menendez “has every right” to attend classified briefings as a member of the Senate and emphasized that the latest “had nothing to do with” the charges, according to CNN.

One member of their party, Sen. John Fetterman (D-NJ), has called on the Senate to expel Menendez. After the Israel briefing earlier last month, Fetterman reportedly said, “I’m glad he wasn’t in there and he shouldn’t be in the Senate. We’ve got to chuck him.”

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