New charges accuse Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey acting as foreign agent: indictment

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Thursday, October 12, 2023
New charges accuse Sen. Bob Menendez of acting as foreign agent
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Sen. Bob Menendez is now accused of acting as foreign agent, according to the superseding indictment filed by a federal grand jury in Manhattan. Anthony Johnson has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Federal prosecutors in New York filed new charges Thursday against United States Sen. Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat, of violating a prohibition on members of Congress from acting as an agent of a foreign principal.

The superseding indictment said Menendez "made multiple requests for the U.S. Department of Justice to commence an investigation against another person for allegedly failing to register under FARA."

The indictment was filed in Manhattan federal court on Thursday. It says the conspiracy occurred from January 2018 to June 2022. It includes four new charges and appears to mark the first time a sitting member of Congress has ever been charged with conspiracy for a public official to act as a foreign agent.

The indictment said Menendez conspired with his wife, Nadine Menendez, and New Jersey businessman Wael Hana to have the senator act as an agent of Egypt.

The indictment includes new photos of Menendez, his wife and Hana dining with Egyptian officials that prosecutors said were part of a "corrupt agreement" to provide Sen. and Mrs. Menendez with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for official acts taken to benefit the Egyptians.

Once Nadine Menendez informed her friend Wael Hana she was dating Menendez prosecutors said the two "arranged a series of meetings and dinners" with Egyptian officials. In exchange for bribe payments Menendez was meant to help lift a block on US military aide to Egypt, the indictment said.

The new indictment also alleged Nadine Menendez set up an LLC to receive bribe payments, quoting a message from her saying "every time I'm in a middle person for a deal I am asking to get paid and this is my consulting company."

Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to seize the their Englewood Cliffs home, as well as the Mercedes-Benz convertible the government says was given to them as a bribe.

Menendez released a statement Thursday evening maintaining his innocence:

"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. 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. I again ask people who know me and my record to give me the chance to present my defense and show my innocence."

The new charge comes just weeks after the Democrat and his wife were accused of accepting bribes of cash, gold bars and a luxury car from three New Jersey businessmen who wanted the senator to help and influence over foreign affairs. The couple have pleaded not guilty.

Menendez, 69, has previously insisted that he did nothing unusual to assist Egypt and that prosecutors had misunderstood the work of a senator involved in foreign affairs.

Authorities who searched Menendez's home last year said they found more than $100,000 worth of gold bars and over $480,000 in cash - much of it hidden in closets, clothing and a safe.

The new charge against Menendez comes as more than 30 Senate Democrats - including his home state colleague, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker - have called on him to resign. Menendez has remained defiant, telling his colleagues in a closed-door luncheon two weeks ago that he will not leave the Senate.

Menendez has not said whether he will run for reelection next year. At least one Democrat, New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim, has already jumped into the primary, and the head of Senate Democrats' campaign arm, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, has called on Menendez to resign, signaling that he may not receive campaign assistance traditionally available to incumbents.

Hana's lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg, said in a statement Thursday:

"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. As with the other charges in this indictment, Mr. Hana will vigorously defend against this baseless allegation."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

ALSO READ | Deadly crash from 2018 involving Senator Menendez's wife gets new attention after indictment

Nadine Menendez was driving her Mercedes-Benz in Bogota, New Jersey, when she struck and killed 49-year-old Richard Koop. Jim Dolan has the latest details.


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