A New Jersey Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, accused last month of accepting bribes in exchange for lucrative political favors, was hit with a stunning new accusation on Thursday: he conspired to act as Egypt’s foreign agent while chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Mr. Menendez, his wife, Nadine Menendez, and a third defendant, Wael Hana, with refusing to register within the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Prosecutors have urged a judge to seize the Menendezes’ Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, home, as well as a Mercedes-Benz convertible that the government claims was handed to them as a bribe.
The indictment also claims that Menendez, who is up for re-election next year, “provided critical U.S. government details and did other steps that secretly aided” Egypt’s administration.
According to the accusation, Menendez and his wife were paid thousands of dollars in bribery “in exchange for Menendez’s acts and violations of the duty to benefit” Egypt and others, “including with regard to foreign military transfers and foreign military financing.”
Menendez and his wife have both pled not guilty. The trial has been scheduled for May.
Menendez has rebuffed calls from his Democratic colleagues to retire, but he has not stated if he would seek reelection next year.
Prosecutors believe that after the encounter, Menendez looked up the identity of the wounded American and his claim. After a week, the Egyptian official contacted Hana in Arabic, saying that if Menendez helped fix the matter, “he would sit very comfortably.” Hana responded, “Orders, consider it done.”
Mr. Menendez has denied the allegations against him and stated that he will be exonerated. On Thursday, lawyers representing the senator, Ms. Menendez, and Mr. Hana were slow to respond to calls for comment.
After the very first indictment was made public last month, Mr. Menendez voluntarily resigned as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Menendez, on the other hand, has refused calls from other Democrats to step down from the Senate. The new charge announced on Thursday is likely to add to the pressure.
Menendez’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. An email requesting comment from the Egyptian embassy was not returned.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and many of Menendez’s Democratic Senate colleagues, including fellow New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, have also called for his resignation. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, D-New York, has ceased short of asking Menendez to resign.
In a show of defiance, Mr. Menendez was set to organize a large fund-raising retreat for his political action committee donors beginning Friday at a luxurious resort in Puerto Rico.
Mr. Menendez is facing federal corruption allegations for the second time. In 2015, he was charged in New Jersey in connection with a bribery plan to exchange favors in politics for a wealthy eye doctor in exchange for gifts totaling over $1 million, including high-end vacation and campaign contributions.
Menendez was overcome with emotion as he addressed supporters following the mistrial, dubbing the day a “Resurrection Day” for his political career. He was re-elected the next year.
Menendez wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland in May 2022 to follow up on a previous request to prosecutors to start an investigation against former legislator David Rivera, alleging he worked for a Venezuelan state-owned oil corporation.
Messages from Menendez And His Wife To Egyptian Officials
Prosecutors allege that the following year, in March 2020, Nadine Menendez wrote a message to one of the Egyptian officials that if they needed anything, they could call her and she would make it happen. She organized a conversation between an Egyptian official and the senator a few days later to discuss discussions between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia about a dam Ethiopia was building on the Nile River. Prosecutors claim that the dam’s building was an important foreign policy concern for Egypt.
Prosecutors claim that Menendez issued a note to the Treasury Secretary of America and Secretary of State within a month to “express my concern” about the stalled dam negotiations. Menendez encouraged them in a letter to greatly boost the State Department’s role in discussions surrounding the [Dam].