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Reports: Attorney General Approves Prosecution of Sen. Menendez on Corruption Charges

By David Madden

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) -- News reports suggest that New Jersey's senior US senator, Robert Menendez, could soon face criminal corruption charges.

CNN broke the story, later confirmed by CBS and other outlets, that  Menendez is about to be charged by federal authorities in connection with his ties to a Florida campaign donor.

Menendez was forced to pay back $58,000 to ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen for air travel to the Dominican Republic.   The doctor's offices were raided by the FBI two years ago, and documents seized.

Menendez has labeled his failure to disclose those trips in 2010 an "oversight."

But there have been lingering suggestions that Menendez might have taken other gifts from Melgen in return for political favors.  The senator, through a spokeswoman, issued a statement insisting that all of his actions with Melgen "have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that."

Friday night, the Senator called a news conference.  Menendez vehemently denies he did anything wrong.

"I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law. Every action that I and my office have taken for the last 23 years that I have been privileged to be in the United States Congress has been based on pursuing the best policies for the people of New Jersey and of this entire country," said Menendez.

He characterized Melgen as a real friend "for more than two decades", and they have traded gifts as friends will do. Menendez did not take questions but insisted to reporters he is, quoting now, "not going anywhere".

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