US Senator Menendez Pleads Not Guilty to Foreign Agent Charge

US Senator Menendez Pleads Not Guilty to Foreign Agent Charge – Bob Menendez made his return to a New York court, where he entered a plea of “not guilty” to a charge accusing the U.S. senator of conspiring to act as an agent of the Egyptian government during his tenure as the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. 

Menendez declared his plea of “not guilty” during his initial appearance before Judge Sidney Stein at the federal court in lower Manhattan. Judge Stein is set to preside over a trial tentatively slated for May. Judge Stein stated that the plea was the only agenda for the brief hearing and adjourned the session after approximately five minutes.

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The Democratic senator representing New Jersey relinquished his influential position as the head of the Senate committee following charges brought against him last month. Prosecutors alleged that the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, received bribes consisting of cash, gold bars, and a luxury car over the past five years from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for engaging in various corrupt activities.

Last week, the other defendants in the case entered “not guilty” pleas to a superseding indictment. The senator was granted permission to postpone his arraignment to fulfill his Senate duties. He has maintained that he has been a faithful patriot throughout his life and is determined to prove his innocence. Menendez has resisted calls from over 30 national Democrats to step down.

Even facing a significant setback when his fellow New Jersey senator, Cory Booker joined those calling for his resignation last month. The revised indictment introduced an additional charge, alleging a conspiracy involving the senator, his wife, and one of the businessmen, aiming to have Menendez act as an agent for the government of Egypt and its officials. 

Being a member of Congress, Menendez is prohibited from acting as an agent for a foreign government. Menendez stands accused of various actions, including providing information to the Egyptians regarding U.S. embassy staff in Cairo, drafting a letter on Egypt’s behalf to influence fellow senators, and pushing the U.S. Department of State to play a more active role in international negotiations aimed at obstructing a dam project opposed by Egypt.

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In the previous week, Nadine Menendez and businessman Wael Hana pleaded “not guilty” to the amended indictment. Both were charged with conspiring alongside the senator to employ him as an agent of the Egyptian government and its officials, carrying a potential penalty of up to five years in prison. Menendez was released on Monday on a $100,000 bond.

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During a federal raid on Bob Menendez’s home in the summer of 2022, investigators discovered a substantial stash of assets. The influential Democrat had nearly $500,000 in cash distributed across jacket pockets, closets, and a safe, along with 13 gold bars, two of which were marked with a 1kg weight, and a Mercedes-Benz in the garage.

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