The Daily Rundown
updated 4/10/2013 1:50:28 PM ET 2013-04-10T17:50:28

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez on Wednesday addressed the on-going scandal surrounding his friend and major Democratic donor Dr. Salomon Melgen.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez on Wednesday addressed the on-going scandal surrounding his friend and major Democratic donor Dr. Salomon Melgen saying he has not been interviewed by federal authorities.

“We welcome any review by any entity because at the end of the day we know that a review will prove that we have acted appropriately at all times,” Menendez, a Democrat, told Chuck Todd in an exclusive interview with The Daily Rundown.

Melgen, who has donated over $700,000 to various Democratic groups and campaigns, including Menendez’s, is currently under investigation for allegedly fraudulent Medicare billing. According to a report by the Washington Post, investigators are also examining Menendez’s role in advocating on behalf of Melgen in a port-security contract with the Dominican Republic and with federal health care officials over the medical billing.

When asked if he acted above and beyond how he normally would for other constituents, Menendez said he acted appropriately.

“We have all types of constituents, both in New Jersey and from across the country who bring us issues,” said Menendez. “We look at those issues, we make a determination as to whether or not those issues have legitimacy, and then we make a decision to pursue it ourselves if we think that the issue has legitimacy. in this case as in every other case, that’s the road that we followed. it’s the same road for everyone.”

Video: Menendez: Pathway to citizenship will be 'fair but tough'

  1. Closed captioning of: Menendez: Pathway to citizenship will be 'fair but tough'

    >>> the senate is closing in on an immigration deal. the judiciary committee may mark up something as early as the week of may 6th . it all depends on who you ask. a framework for the proposal could come tomorrow, could come sometime next week or maybe it's may. if a deal does get done it would be the first comprehensive immigration bill since 1986 . joining me now a member of the gang of eight, the group of bipartisan senators negotiating how to write the bill. new jersey democratic senator bob menendez who's also chairman of the foreign relations committee . a lot we could be talking to you about considering what's going on with north korea . let's start with immigration. marco rubio 's spoerks person said senator rubio has said from the outset that we will not rush this process so it's good that senators and the public will have weeks to study the proposal before the judiciary committee will mark it up. what interested me there is that he said we'll have weeks to mark it up. it seems to me you guys are really close to having a framework to release to the public. are you?

    >> yes. chuck, we are just finishing up legislative language to encapsulate all the agreements that we've come to. all of the major issues on a pathway to legalization, on border security , on future flow of workers, on ag jobs, on dream act , all of those have largely been agreed to. now, of course, putting legislative language as you know takes time and in that process, when people read the language, some member might say, well, that's not exactly what i meant. so you have to refine it. but we're there.

    >> what is your concern of what the biggest sticking point could be?

    >> well, i think that we have met the challenges of all of the biggest sticking points. being that the afl/cio and the u.s. chamber of commerce have come to an agreement on future flow of workers, which was one of the toughest challenges. one of the reasons the last time in '07 that we debated immigration reform --

    >> you really think that was stickier than border -- than this idea of a border security metric, figuring out what that is, before you trigger the start of the pathway to citizenship for those that are here who are undocumented?

    >> the border security metric is very objective. we have vetted to make sure that it can be achieved. i would personally never sign on to an agreement in which the border security metric would be an absolute impediment towards a pathway to legalization and to citizenship for the 11 million. i believe the border security metrics can be met. help further increase significantly the border security . and at the same time provide the pathway for the 11 million who are undocumented to come out of the shadows into the light .

    >> all eight of you sticking together on this including marco rubio ? let me ask you this. have you come to an agreement on the number of years that the pathway to citizenship will take? is it eight years? is it ten years? is it 12 years?

    >> well, that goes through a process as determined by some of the -- not only those metrics that we just talked about, but the time frame that it will take for an individual to go through the whole process of coming forward, going through a criminal background check, learning english, doing all the elements of what will earn you the right towards permanent residency and then u.s. citizenship . so that's going to be defined by that process. but it'll be a fair but tough process. one that i certainly can embrace. one that i think immigration advocates across the country will embrace. and one that will also ensure that we know who is here to pursue the american dream , that we know that we have a group of individuals who can no longer be an underclass and exploited and oppress wages for all americans. i think this will be good for the country. it'll be good for our security. it'll be good for our economy. and it will keep to our values as a nation of immigrants.

    >> senator, is there a minimum -- is there a minimum number of years? there's some immigration advocates out there that are nervous that even eight years is too long. five years is too long. is there -- what is that minimum going to be? well, we'll talk about that when we release the bill finally. but i would just simply say that i say to my friends in the immigration advocacy community, look at what the pathway was before in different bills. and the reality is, is that there's a certain period of time that will be invoked no matter what. for example, if we say that -- we've always said that you have to wait at the back of the line, which means all those waiting to come in through the legal fashion have to be cleared out first. that's going to be determined by how we ratchet up the number of visas for those who have been verified and have been approved. so that's all part and element of what the time frame will be.

    >> budget. very fast. chained cpi. the president's proposal to change the way cost of living adjustments are made. that has an impact on social security . can you imagine yourself supporting that in any form if it's part of a larger budget deal?

    >> look, i want to keep an open mind because it depends what that larger budget deal can be. you know, one that ultimately ensures that we continue investments in education, in health, in our research and development , but also reduces our debt. but i am generally opposed to the chained cpi. but i will look at the totality of any deal that's presented to me and make a decision at that time.

    >> anything the administration's not doing on north korea that they should be?

    >> well, i think they are doing everything they can. the tensions on the north korean peninsula are at its highest. a miscalculation could create a real consequence. what we need to do and i believe the administration is doing is pursuing the chinese who obviously have the greatest impact on north korea because they're the provider of overwhelmingly its fuel and food resources. and they can play and should play a big role here.

    >> i want to ask you about the investigation that's taking place into a donor and a friend of yours, dr. melgin, i wanted to know, have you been interviewed either by the fbi or by the grand jury in this investigation?

    >> no. and the reality is, look, we welcome any review by any entity. because at the end of the day we know that that review will prove that we have acted appropriately at all times. what we don't know in this process is who was behind the money and the smears that they tried to level. we do know that there were people behind it. we do know that republican operatives were at play by a whole host of press accounts. we'd love to know who was behind that.

    >> well, i want to -- the one part of this that i guess i'm -- that some people look at and say, huh, did you do any favors for this donor and this friend that you wouldn't have done for any other constituent when it was helping him with a port security contract or dealing with medicare? can you say for certain you didn't do anything above and beyond what you would have done for any other constituent?

    >> we have all types of constituents, both in new jersey and from across the country. who bring us issues, and we look at those issues. we make a determination as to whether or not those issues have legitimacy. and then we make a decision to pursue it ourselves if we think that the issue haslegitimacy. in this case as in every other case, that's the road that we followed. it's the same road for everyone. as i say, i'm, you know, happy to see our actions reviewed because at the end of the day they were totally appropriate.

    >> all right. new jersey democratic senator bob menendez , chairman of the senate foreign relations committee , part of the gang of 8, very busy week in washington, thanks for your time on the show.

    >> thank you.


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