US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) pleaded not guilty before US District Judge Sidney Stein on Monday on charges that he allegedly conspired to act as a foreign agent of Egypt. The allegations were set forth two weeks ago in an indictment alleging that Menendez accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes” in exchange for breaching his senatorial duties to benefit the Egyptian government.
The indictment alleged that Menendez engaged in a “corrupt relationship” with three New Jersey businessmen whom Menendez breached his duties to support. The prosecutors further alleged that Menendez shared sensitive US information, improperly advised a US official, and interfered with a criminal investigation all to benefit the businessmen and the government of Egypt, in exchange for bribes. Specifically, the indictment alleges that on multiple occasions, Menendez met with Egyptian military officials and participated in “discussions of foreign military financing to Egypt.” These meetings were allegedly organized by Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez.
In addition to Menendez, the indictment named the three businessmen and Nadine Menendez as co-defendants. It is alleged that the four individuals conspired with Menendez in the course of his improper activity. Last week, all four co-defendants entered not guilty pleas.
In September, Menendez was indicted on bribery charges related to the same events. He pleaded not guilty to those charges as well. In the days following his first indictment, Menendez gave a press conference during which he emphasized that, like all American people, he expects to be held to “the principle that all people are presumed innocent until proven guilty.” He further stated:
Remember, prosecutors get it wrong sometimes. Sadly, I know that. Instead of waiting for all the facts to be presented, others have rushed to judgment because they see a political opportunity for themselves or those around them. All I humbly ask for in this moment…is to pause and allow for all the facts to be presented.
In response to his indictments, dozens of members of the US Congress have called for Menendez’s resignation. Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) are among the politicians who have spoken out. Representative Andy Kim (D-NJ) has gone as far as calling for Menendez’s expulsion. Though Menendez stepped down from his role as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, he has declined to resign from Congress.