New Jersey Senator Menendez Denies Foreign Bribes After Second Indictment
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., responded to another indictment filed against him Thursday with more denials as the calls among his fellow Democratic lawmakers for him to resign become more emphatic.
The indictment unsealed by the Justice Department Thursday accuses the New Jersey senator and his wife of acting as unregistered foreign agents for the Egyptian government and accepting bribes.
They allegedly revealed “sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the government of Egypt,” the indictment says.
Another indictment last month accused him of corruption for using his influence to gain hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from New Jersey businessmen and the Egyptians. He pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Menendez responded Thursday by saying in a statement, “Piling new charge upon new charge does not make the allegations true. The facts haven’t changed, only a new charge. It is an attempt to wear someone down and I will not succumb to this tactic.”
Fellow Democrats, such as Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, are unconvinced by Menendez’s claims of innocence. Fetterman issued a statement saying the Senate should expel Menendez.
“We cannot have an alleged foreign agent in the United States Senate,” Fetterman said. “This is not a close call.”
He added, “It is time for every one of my colleagues in the Senate to join me in expelling Menendez.”
Fetterman was joined by Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., who wrote on X, “Given the severity of these charges, the U.S. Senate should vote on expulsion.” Kim announced after last month’s indictment that he was running for Menendez’s seat.
The indictment in September says some of the bribes were paid in the form of “cash, gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value.”
Menendez says the money came from his personal assets, some of which he said he used to make the alleged illegal purchases.
The Senate would need a two-thirds majority vote to expel Menendez, which would be a very rare occurrence. Menendez refuses to resign.
Since 1789 the Senate has expelled only 15 members; 14 were expelled during the Civil War for supporting the Confederacy.
Menendez has served first in the House of Representatives and later the Senate since 1993. Until he stepped down last month, he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He helped to oversee billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Egypt.
“The government’s latest charge flies in the face of my long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and challenging leaders of that country, including President [Abdel-Fattah] El-Sisi on these issues,” Menendez said.
Menendez married his wife, Nadine Arslanian, in 2020 after meeting her at an IHOP restaurant in New Jersey. They each face as much as 45 years in prison if convicted.
The Justice Department says Menendez and his wife were introduced to high-level Egyptian military officials by Wael Hana, a New Jersey businessman originally from Egypt. Hana is listed as a co-conspirator in the latest indictment.
“At various times between 2018 and 2022, Menendez also conveyed to Egyptian officials … that he would approve or remove holds on foreign military financing and sales of military equipment to Egypt in connection with his leadership role on the [Senate Foreign Relations Committee],” a Justice Department report says. “For example, in or about July 2018, following meetings between Menendez and Egyptian officials … Menendez texted Nadine Menendez that she should tell Hana that Menendez was going to sign off on a multimillion-dollar weapons sale to Egypt.”
Other times, Menendez is accused of reporting to Egyptian officials on staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, potentially exposing the Americans to threats.
He also allegedly pressured the U.S. secretary of State to try to block a dam construction project on the Nile River that Egypt’s government opposed.