Sen. Menendez faces new charges in bribery case

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife with extortion and obstruction of justice, adding counts to a case alleging that the lawmaker had acted as an illegal foreign agent on behalf of Egypt.

Menendez (D-N.J.); his wife, Nadine Menendez; and two associates, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, were charged in an 18-count indictment that built upon the bribery charges they face in a case accusing them of conspiring to have the senator act as an illegal foreign agent on behalf of the Egyptian government.

Tuesday’s indictment alleges again that Menendez and his wife accepted bribes — including cash, gold and a luxury car — in exchange for the senator to use his influence to benefit the Egyptian and Qatari governments.

The senator’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon, nor did an attorney for Nadine Menendez.

The pair previously pleaded not guilty to federal bribery charges in the case.

They and three New Jersey business executives — Hana, Daibes and Jose Uribe — were charged with bribery in an indictment that was unsealed in September.

It alleged that Menendez had pressured President Biden’s administration to nominate a U.S. attorney in New Jersey who would be sympathetic to Daibes, a real estate developer who was facing bank fraud charges. The indictment included photos of cash and bars of gold, which the Menendezes were accused of taking as bribes in exchange for assisting the Egyptian government.

A new indictment the next month showed an image of the senator and his then-girlfriend Nadine Arslanian standing with unidentified Egyptian officials, The Washington Post reported. In that document, Menendez was charged with conspiracy to act as a foreign agent.

In response to the October indictment, Menendez said in a statement that “piling new charge upon new charge does not make the allegations true.”

“It is an attempt to wear someone down and I will not succumb to this tactic,” Menendez said.

Attorneys for Nadine Menendez also denied the allegations in the October indictment, adding that they would “fight all these charges, as appropriate, in court.”

Since charges were announced against Menendez, he has faced growing calls from Senate colleagues to resign. Sen. Cory Booker, a fellow New Jersey Democrat, was among them, saying in a statement that the allegations against Menendez were “of such a nature that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans as well as those he must work with in order to be effective have been shaken to the core.”

Menendez was indicted in New Jersey years ago on other federal corruption charges but was not convicted after a jury did not reach a unanimous verdict.

Last week, Uribe, one of Menendez’s alleged associates who is not named as a defendant in the new document, pleaded guilty to seven charges including conspiracy to commit bribery and obstruction of justice, the Associated Press reported.

Uribe agreed to testify against the senator and said in court that he had given Nadine Menendez a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for her husband to exert his influence, according to the AP. Tuesday’s indictment alleges that the Menendezes knew Uribe’s payments on the car were bribe payments.

The trial for Bob and Nadine Menendez, Hana and Daibes is scheduled to begin in May.

Shayna Jacobs and Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post