Sen. Bob Menendez to enter plea on foreign agent charge in corruption case

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is seen after addressing colleagues at a Democratic senate luncheon in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, September 28, 2023.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Sen. Bob Menendez is set to be arraigned Monday on a federal indictment accusing him of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for the Egyptian government.

It is the second time in less than four weeks that the Democratic senator from New Jersey is scheduled to appear in court to enter a plea on criminal charges related to his alleged abuse of office. He is expected to plead not guilty to the new charge.

Menendez, who is up for reelection next year, has denied wrongdoing and vowed not to resign. The arraignment is set for 3 p.m. ET in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were charged last month with accepting a range of bribes — including gold bars, cash, home mortgage payments and a Mercedes-Benz convertible — as part of a yearslong “corrupt relationship” with three New Jersey businessmen.

That indictment accused Menendez of using his power and influence in ways that “secretly aided the Government of Egypt,” including by sharing “sensitive U.S. Government information.”

The senator and his wife pleaded not guilty on Sept. 27 to the initial three-count indictment, which charged them both with conspiring to commit bribery, honest services fraud and extortion under color of official right.

In mid-October, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment in the same case, charging Menendez, his wife and one of the businessmen, Wael Hana, with conspiring for a public official to act as a foreign agent.

The new criminal count alleges that they “willfully and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together and with each other” to have Menendez unlawfully “act as an agent of a foreign principal.”

Four of the co-defendants in the case pleaded not guilty last week to the charges in that updated indictment. Menendez had been granted a delay of his arraignment in order to cast previously scheduled votes in the Senate.

What’s next for Menendez and Senate Democrats?

Menendez, who has been in the Senate for 17 years, has stepped down from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as he fights his criminal charges.

As Senate Democrats look to hold onto their slim majority in the chamber past the 2024 election cycle, many have openly called for Menendez to resign.

If he does step down, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy could appoint a successor to serve out the rest of his term. Murphy, a Democrat, has also urged Menendez to resign.

But the senator, who previously faced unrelated bribery charges in a separate case that ended in a mistrial in 2017, has remained defiant.

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,” Menendez said in a statement following his latest criminal charges.

“Piling new charge upon new charge does not make the allegations true. The facts haven’t changed, only a new charge,” Menendez said. “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 innocent.”

This is developing news. Please check back for updates.

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