Federal prosecutors have introduced an additional charge against New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and his wife, alleging that they conspired to have the senator act as a foreign agent of Egypt.
In this superseding indictment, Menendez, who was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the alleged actions, faces new allegations that a US senator was acting on behalf of another country.
Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, were indicted the previous month on corruption-related charges. They are accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for the senator’s influence, which reportedly included bribes in the form of gold, cash, home mortgage payments, compensation for a “low-or-no-show job,” and a luxury vehicle.
Senator Menendez strongly affirmed his loyalty to the United States in a statement, arguing that this new charge contradicts his “long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and challenging leaders of that country.” He further stated, “Piling new charges upon new charges does not make the allegations true. The facts haven’t changed; only a new charge has been added. It appears to be an attempt to wear someone down, and I will not succumb to this tactic. I once again ask those who know me and my record to allow me the chance to present my defense and demonstrate my innocence.” Both Senator Menendez and his wife have pleaded not guilty, and a trial date is scheduled for May.
Despite calls from fellow Democrats to resign, Senator Menendez has not indicated whether he will run for reelection next year. The new charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, meaning that if convicted, both Menendez and his wife could face up to 50 years in prison.
According to the alleged scheme, Senator Menendez met with an Egyptian intelligence official at his Senate office in 2019, along with his wife and New Jersey businessman Wael Hana. During this meeting, they discussed a human rights issue involving Egypt and a US citizen who was injured in an airstrike in 2015. Some members of Congress believed that Egypt had not adequately compensated the Americans injured in the attack, leading them to object to providing military aid to Egypt.