Menendez Pleads Not Guilty to New Federal Charge

New Jersey senator is charged with failing to register as foreign agent of Egypt
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 12, 2023 11:54 AM CDT
Updated Oct 23, 2023 4:22 PM CDT
Menendez Now Accused of Being Agent of Egypt
Sen. Bob Menendez arrives at Manhattan federal court, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
UPDATE Oct 23, 2023 4:22 PM CDT

Sen. Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty Monday to a new federal charge filed in a superseding indictment earlier this month. The Democrat, who pleaded not guilty to bribery charges in September, entered a not guilty plea to a charge that he conspired to act as a foreign agent of Egypt, CNN reports. The hearing lasted less than five minutes and Menendez left the Manhattan federal courthouse without speaking to reporters, the AP reports. Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey, has stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but has resisted calls from dozens of his fellow Democrats to resign from the Senate.

Oct 12, 2023 11:54 AM CDT

More trouble for Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey: Federal prosecutors have rewritten their indictment against the senator to accuse him of acting as a foreign agent on behalf of Egypt. The superseding indictment, filed in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, 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." His wife, Nadine Menendez, is similarly charged, as is a third defendant, Wael Hana, per the New York Times. As a member of Congress, Menendez would have been prohibited from being an agent of a foreign government, even if he did register as one. The indictment says the conspiracy occurred from January 2018 to June 2022.

The Guardian previously detailed some of the allegations specific to Egypt: Menendez allegedly obtained details from the State Department about people working at the US embassy in Cairo, then turned over the information to Egyptian officials. The original indictment stated that "although this information was not classified, it was deemed highly sensitive because it could pose significant operational security concerns if disclosed to a foreign government or if made public." The allegations also accuse Menendez of using his clout to try to increase military sales to Egypt in exchange for bribes, per the Times.

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The new charge comes just weeks after the Democrat and his wife were accused of accepting bribes of cash, gold bars, and a luxury car from three New Jersey businessmen who wanted the senator to help and influence over foreign affairs. The couple have pleaded not guilty, and Menendez has rebuffed growing calls for his resignation. He defiantly pushed back against federal corruption charges last month, saying nearly half a million dollars in cash authorities found in his home was from his personal savings, not from bribes, and was on hand for emergencies. (More Bob Menendez stories.)

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