United States Senator Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, the head of the influential Foreign Relations Committee, has been charged with engaging in unlawful foreign relations and business activities following the recommendation of a federal grand jury in New York.
The investigation concentrated on a high-end automobile, gold bars, and an apartment that Menendez and his wife Nadine Arslanian reportedly got. His spouse was charged as well.
Menendez, 69, and his wife are accused in the indictment of engaging in corrupt behavior with Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daides, three New Jersey businessmen.
Menendez and his wife are charged with receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using their influence as senators to help the businessman get protection and wealth.
“Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value,” the indictment said.
The senior senator from New Jersey has now been accused of corruption twice. A 2018 mistrial involving a 2015 indictment resulted from the jury’s inability to agree on all counts and the judge clearing the defendant of some charges.
Prior accusations against Menendez centered on his association with the senator’s personal friend and eye doctor from Florida, Solomon Melgen. Menendez is accused of accepting gifts from Melgen in exchange for using his senate position to advance the physician’s professional and private interests.
Menendez has resigned from his position as head of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer. According to Senate Democratic caucus rules, any member accused of a criminal must vacate a leadership post.
However, a close friend of Menendez claims that the senator will not step down. Next year, Menendez will be up for reelection.
“For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave,” Menendez said in a statement about the indictment. “Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.”
He continued, “I have been falsely accused before because I refused to back down to the powers that be and the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors and recognize I was innocent.”
Danny Onorato, a lawyer representing Nadine Menendez, said in a statement to ABC News, “Mrs. Menendez denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend against these allegations in court.”
According to the complaint, when federal officials searched Menendez’s New Jersey home in June 2022, they discovered “fruits” of their “corrupt bribery agreement” with the three businessmen. Over $480,000 in cash was discovered by investigators, along with $70,000 in Nadine Menendez’s safe deposit box and part of it concealed in clothing and envelopes.
Additionally discovered in the house were gold bars valued at over $100,000 that had been “provided by either Hana or Daibes,” the indictment said.
According to the indictment, Menendez allegedly shared classified information with the U.S. government “that secretly aided the Government of Egypt” and “improperly advised and pressured” a U.S. agricultural official to defend a contract that designated Hana as the sole supplier of halal meat to Egypt.
The senator is also charged with suggesting to the president a candidate for the position of U.S. attorney in New Jersey whom he believed he could influence. In the end, Philip Sellinger was appointed to the position. He withdrew from the probe, and no misconduct has been leveled against him.
According to the Senate Historical Office, Menendez looks to be the first senator to ever be charged with two separate crimes while serving in office.
Daibes, another defendant, ultimately entered a guilty plea to different counts in New Jersey last year and is currently awaiting sentencing.