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Senator Bob Menendez Charged With Bribery And Conspiracy To Act As A Foreign Agent

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Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat, and his wife were named in a new allegation announced by federal prosecutors on Thursday, alleging a conspiracy to have the senator operate as an agent of Egypt abroad.

A fresh angle is added to the case by the superseding indictment brought against Menendez, who at the time of the alleged activities served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It claims that Menendez was acting on behalf of a foreign government.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, are accused of collecting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for the senator’s influence. They were indicted last month on charges of corruption-related offenses.

The bribes allegedly included gold, cash, house payments, remuneration for “low-or-no-show jobs,” and a luxury car, according to the prosecution.

In a statement released on Thursday, the senator emphasized his allegiance to the US and said that the new accusation contradicts his “long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and in challenging leaders of that country.”

“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,” he continued. “I again ask people who know me and my record to give me the chance to present my defense and show my innocence.”

Menendez’s wife has also entered a not-guilty plea. May has been designated as the trial date.

Menendez has rejected calls from other Democrats to resign, but he hasn’t stated if he’ll run for office again the next year. The maximum term for the new crime is five years in prison. Menendez and his wife may spend up to 50 years in jail if found guilty.

The alleged conspiracy states that Menendez, his wife, and New Jersey businessman Wael Hana met with an Egyptian intelligence official in his Senate office in 2019 to discuss a human rights matter involving Egypt and a US citizen hurt in an airstrike in 2015. Some members of Congress opposed giving Egypt military aid because they thought Egypt had not fairly compensated the Americans hurt in the attack.

Prosecutors assert that Menendez looked up the injured American’s identity and lawsuit after the encounter. One week later, the Egyptian official wrote Hana in Arabic with the message “he will sit very comfortably” if Menendez helped solve the problem. “Orders, consider it done,” Hana retorted.

Prosecutors claim that Nadine Menendez contacted one of the Egyptian officials in March of the following year with the words “anytime you need anything you have my number and we will make everything happen.” A few days later, she set up a meeting between the senator and the Egyptian official to talk about negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia regarding the construction of a dam on the Nile River by Ethiopia. According to the prosecution, Egypt’s construction of the dam was a major concern for its foreign policy.

Prosecutors assert that Menendez wrote a letter to the US Treasury secretary and secretary of State within a month to “express my concern” on the deadlocked talks on the project.

“I therefore urge you to significantly increase the State Department’s engagement on negotiations surrounding the [Dam],” the letter said.

Authorities assert that Menendez was aware of the foreign agent statute. A member of Congress or any other public servant cannot operate as a foreign agent. According to the prosecution, Hana and Nadine Menendez colluded to have Menendez serve as an agent for Egypt while also failing to register as such. Hana has asserted her innocence in the past.

Menendez requested that prosecutors launch an inquiry into former legislator David Rivera in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland in May 2022. Menendez said that Rivera had worked for a state-owned oil business in Venezuela.

Lawrence Lustberg, Hana’s lawyer, denied the fresh accusations.

“The new allegation that Wael Hana was part of a plot concocted over dinner to enlist Senator Menendez as an agent of the Egyptian Government is as absurd as it is false,” Lustberg said. “As with the other charges in this indictment, Mr. Hana will vigorously defend against this new and baseless allegation.”

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