In Brief

Senator Menendez says he’s still not guilty in second arraignment on corruption charges

By: - October 23, 2023 3:39 pm

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) was arraigned Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, in federal court in Manhattan on charges that he acted as a foreign agent for Egypt. (Photo by Danielle Richards for New Jersey Monitor)

Sen. Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty — for the second time — when he appeared in court Monday to respond to new federal corruption charges in a superseding indictment federal authorities filed two weeks ago.

Investigators say Menendez, a Democrat, acted as a foreign agent for the Egyptian government when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and cleared the way for military aid that previously had been blocked because of the country’s poor record on human rights abuses.

Monday, he entered a not guilty plea before U.S. Judge Sidney H. Stein at a federal courthouse in Manhattan.

He said nothing to reporters as he left the courthouse and ducked into a car around 3:20 p.m.

He also pleaded not guilty last month to the initial indictment and was released on a $100,000 bond.

Prosecutors have accused him and his wife, Nadine, of accepting cash, gold bars, a luxury car, and other bribes since 2018 in exchange for using his political influence to speed aid to Egypt and disrupt the criminal prosecutions of two of his co-defendants.

Authorities allege Menendez ghostwrote a letter for an Egyptian official asking the United States to unfreeze military aid, tipped Egyptian officials to staffing information at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, and tried to involve U.S. State Department officials in negotiations on a stalled dam project. Public officials are prohibited from acting as foreign agents.

Nadine Menendez and co-defendants Fred Daibes, Wael Hana, and Jose Uribe pleaded not guilty to the superseding indictment on Oct. 18. The judge postponed Menendez’s arraignment because he had Senate duties last week.

Menendez, who has held his Senate seat since 2006, has resisted calls to resign and denied the charges against him. He did step down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“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. Anyone who knows my record, knows this latest charge is as outrageous as it is absurd,” Menendez said in a statement after Monday’s hearing. “I will not litigate this case through the press, but have made it abundantly clear that I have done nothing wrong and once all the facts are presented will be found innocent.”

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.