Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of corruption. Menendez is accused of accepting bribes in the form of cash and gold bars in exchange for using his political influence to advance Egyptian interests and provide favors for local businessmen. Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, also pleaded not guilty in the case.
The plea was entered during a brief hearing at the lower Manhattan federal courthouse. Menendez, accompanied by his wife, left the courthouse hand in hand, ignoring questions from reporters. Menendez, who stepped down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after being indicted, was released on a $100,000 bond. He must surrender personal passports but can keep an official passport for government business.
The judge ordered Menendez not to have contact with his co-defendants or members of his Senate staff, Foreign Relations Committee staff, or political advisers who have personal knowledge of the case. Calls for Menendez’s resignation have continued to mount, with more than half of Senate Democrats, including Senator Cory Booker, calling for his resignation.
This is the second corruption case against Menendez in a decade. Authorities found nearly $500,000 in cash, including some hidden in clothing and closets, as well as over $100,000 in gold bars during a search of Menendez’s New Jersey home. Menendez is accused of taking actions to benefit the Egyptian government and interfering in criminal investigations involving associates.
Menendez has maintained his innocence and expressed confidence in being exonerated. He has no intention of leaving the Senate. The trial involving different allegations against Menendez in 2017 ended with a hung jury.
Prosecutors allege that Menendez accepted bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, including promises to put his wife on a company’s payroll and financial support for her mortgage. They also claim Menendez provided sensitive U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and attempted to influence fellow senators to lift a hold on aid to Egypt.