February 4th, 2013
06:34 PM ET

Sen. Menendez talks with CNN's Dana Bash about prostitution allegations

As he faces prostitution allegations, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) talks with CNN chief Congressional correspondent Dana Bash on Capitol Hill today. Bash asked the senator about the prostitution allegations and why it took him so long to pay back his travel on a private plane. Sen. Menendez to CNN’s Bash on the prostitution allegations, “The smears that right-wing blogs have been pushing since the election.  And that is totally unsubstantiated.  It's amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a Web site can drive that type of story into the mainstream.  But that's what they've done successful. Now, nobody can find them.  No one ever met them.  No one ever talked to them, but that's where we're at. So the bottom line is all of those smears are absolutely false and, you know, that's the bottom line.”  More from the interview is after the jump.

MANDATORY CREDIT:  CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash

Highlights from Full Interview:
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. IT MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  Senator, could you just say why it took so long to pay back almost $60,000 in flights that you took with your friend?

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY:  Well, I was in a big travel schedule in 2010.  I was the chair of the DSCC plus my own campaign getting ready for a reelection cycle.  And in the process of all of that, it unfortunately fell through the cracks that our processes didn't catch moving forward and making sure that we paid.

When it came to my attention that payment had not taken place, I personally paid for them in order to meet my obligations.

BASH:  And you, of course, understand the perception that you say when it came to your attention, that you didn't pay it - pay for it until you got caught.

MENENDEZ:  Well, that's not the case.  The bottom line is, when it came to my attention, I paid for it.  You know, there were a series of flights that were alleged.  Several of them were, you know, shown not to be the case.  But after the election, when I got to look at the allegations and I did my own self-inspection, I ultimately came forward.  As a matter of fact, one of those flights, I self-reported.  There wasn't even anybody (INAUDIBLE).

--

BASH:  One last question. Can you just answer the allegation that has been out there that you...

MENENDEZ:  The smears?

BASH:  - that you were with prostitutes there?

MENENDEZ:  The smears that right-wing blogs have been pushing since the election.  And that is totally unsubstantiated.  It's amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a Web site can drive that type of story into the mainstream.  But that's what they've done successful.

Now, nobody can find them.  No one ever met them.  No one ever talked to them, but that's where we're at. So the bottom line is all of those smears are absolutely false and, you know, that's the bottom line.

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CNN Political Ticker: Menendez speaks out, rebuts prostitute claims

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