New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez entered a plea of not guilty on Monday in response to a superseding indictment filed earlier this month. The indictment accused him of violating the prohibition that bars members of Congress from acting as agents of a foreign principal.
Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, and the New Jersey businessmen who were also implicated in the case had already entered not guilty pleas to the same charges the previous week.
The superseding indictment, filed on October 12, alleges that Senator Menendez, aged 69, conspired with his wife and businessman Wael Hana to act as an agent of Egypt. The indictment included new photographs depicting Menendez, his wife, and Hana dining with Egyptian officials, which prosecutors claim were part of a “corrupt agreement.” This agreement purportedly involved providing the senator and his wife with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for official actions designed to benefit Egypt.
Prior to marrying the senator, Nadine Menendez informed her friend, Hana, about her relationship with Menendez. Prosecutors assert that the two “arranged a series of meetings and dinners” with Egyptian officials. The indictment suggests that, in return for bribe payments, Menendez was meant to assist in removing a block on U.S. military aid to Egypt.
Following the filing of the new charges, Senator Menendez released a statement asserting, “The government’s latest charge flies in the face of my long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and in challenging leaders of that country, including President El-Sisi on these issues. I have been, throughout my life, loyal to only one country—the United States of America, the land my family chose to live in democracy and freedom.”
The senator had initially faced charges on September 22 in a comprehensive indictment that accused him of accepting bribes from the same three businessmen. The indictment detailed various forms of bribery, including cash, gold, mortgage payments, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other valuable items.
In June 2022, federal agents searched Menendez’s New Jersey residence and reportedly discovered evidence of their “corrupt bribery agreement” with the three businessmen. This included over $480,000 in cash, some of which was concealed in envelopes and clothing, as well as $70,000 stored in Nadine Menendez’s safe deposit box. Agents also uncovered gold bars worth over $100,000, allegedly provided by either Hana or fellow businessman Fred Daibes.
Menendez had been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, all of which he had previously pleaded not guilty to. The four other individuals, including Nadine Menendez, had also entered not guilty pleas.
The senator has remained steadfast in his refusal to resign from his position and has vociferously denounced the charges. During a press conference following the initial indictment in September, Menendez stated, “Everything I’ve accomplished I’ve worked for despite the naysayers and everyone who has underestimated me. I recognize this will be the biggest fight yet. But as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator.”