Senator Bob Menendez Charged With Acting as Foreign Agent of Egypt – On Thursday, federal prosecutors unveiled a revised indictment against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, accusing him of operating as an unregistered agent for the Egyptian government, according to a court document. Despite mounting pressure for his resignation, the New Jersey senator remains steadfast, and his corruption trial is scheduled to commence in May of next year.
The superseding indictment, filed in Manhattan federal court, accuses Menendez of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires people to register with the US government if they are acting as “an agent of a foreign principal”. As a member of Congress, Menendez was prohibited from being an agent of a foreign government, even if he did register as one.
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The indictment outlines a conspiracy spanning from January 2018 to June 2022. It asserts that in May 2019, Senator Menendez, along with his wife and business associate Wael Hana, convened with an Egyptian intelligence official within Menendez’s Senate office in Washington. The meeting reportedly revolved around a U.S. citizen who sustained severe injuries in a 2015 airstrike conducted by the Egyptian military using a U.S.-manufactured Apache helicopter, as detailed in the indictment.
The document suggests that certain members of Congress voiced objections to providing specific military aid to Egypt due to this incident and concerns about the Egyptian government’s perceived reluctance to adequately compensate the injured American. Shortly after the meeting in Washington, the Egyptian official texted Hana that if Menendez helped resolve the matter, “he will sit very comfortably”.
Hana, the indictment says, replied: “Orders, consider it done.”The latest accusation follows shortly after Senator Menendez and his wife were charged with receiving bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, and a luxury car from three New Jersey businessmen who sought the senator’s assistance and influence in foreign affairs. The couple has pleaded not guilty to these charges.
Additionally, Menendez’s business associate, Hana, also entered a not guilty plea last month, facing charges related to conspiracy to commit bribery. According to the indictments, during Menendez’s tenure as the chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, he allegedly took covert actions to support Egyptian officials. These actions included composing a letter on behalf of fellow senators to encourage the removal of a hold on $300 million in aid.
Furthermore, he was accused of sharing information about U.S. embassy staff in Egypt and transmitting confidential data to Egyptian officials regarding military aid. Menendez, aged 69, maintains that his actions were not out of the ordinary for a senator involved in foreign affairs and suggests that prosecutors have misconstrued his work.
Authorities, during a search of Menendez’s residence last year, reportedly uncovered over $100,000 worth of gold bars and more than $480,000 in cash, with a substantial portion concealed in closets, clothing, and a safe. Over 30 Senate Democrats, including Senator Cory Booker of his home state, have called for Menendez’s resignation. Despite the pressure, Menendez remains steadfast, expressing his intention to stay in the Senate.
As for his plans for re-election next year, Menendez has not made a definitive statement. Congressman Andy Kim has already entered the primary race, and the head of Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, Gary Peters of Michigan, has called on Menendez to step down, implying that he may not receive campaign support.