Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez thanked two of his Senate colleagues for testifying at his corruption trial Thursday, saying they “showed extraordinary courage” in defending him.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued Menendez, who’s facing bribery charges related to trading political influence for luxury vacations and rides in private jets, is honest and trustworthy.
Graham traveled to Newark, New Jersey for the trial on his own dime, his office said, adding that his testimony has nothing to do with the underlying charges, but only relates to his service with Menendez in the upper chamber.
"I'm here to vouch for Bob," Graham told reporters upon entering the courtroom.
The South Carolina Republican said that he’s known Menendez for a long time—going back to their days in the House of Representatives. They also eat breakfast together on a regular basis in the Senate dining room, and have worked together on legislation such as comprehensive immigration reform.
“In very difficult circumstances, he always keeps his word,” Graham said. “A handshake is all you need from Bob. He’s a very honest and trustworthy senator.”
He also said political affiliations had nothing to do with him coming to testify on behalf of his colleague.
“I’m not here because I agree with him or disagree with him. I’m here because I know him,” explained Graham.
Menendez was emotional as he walked into the courtroom, telling reporters it “says a lot…when your colleagues come to testify for you.”
Booker also spoke highly of his colleague, describing him as “profoundly honorable” and “trustworthy.”
“Bob and I are in the thick of it together,” he said. “We’re partners. We’re in the struggle together. I don’t just observe him, I work with him.”
The New Jersey senator said Menendez is someone you can count on: “when he gives you his word, you can take it to the bank.”
Defense lawyers asked the judge to declare a mistrial Thursday for what they believe is an unfair exclusion of some of their witnesses and evidence.