Federal prosecutors alleged in a superseding indictment filed Thursday that New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez conspired to act as a foreign agent of Egypt while serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez, a Democrat, was indicted alongside his wife, Nadine Arslanian, on federal corruption charges last month. Prosecutors allege that the senator accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes—including gold, cash and a luxury vehicle—in exchange for advancing the interests of three New Jersey businessmen and the interests of Egypt.
According to Thursday’s filing, Menendez, his wife and New Jersey businessman Wael Hana “willfully and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together and with each other” to have the senator act as an agent for the Egyptian government. Prosecutors also accused Menendez of providing “sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt.”
In a statement to Newsweek Thursday, Menendez said that the latest charge against him “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.”
“I have been, throughout my life, loyal to only one country — the United States of America, the land my family chose to live in democracy and freedom,” Menendez continued. “Piling new charge upon new charge does not make the allegations true. The facts haven’t changed, only a new charge. It is an attempt to wear someone down and I will not succumb to this tactic.”
Thursday’s indictment claims that Menendez made several promises to act on behalf of the Egyptian government, and its military and intelligence officials, and that his wife and Hana “communicated requests and directives from Egyptian officials” to the senator.
According to prosecutors, in May 2019, Menendez, Nadine Menendez and Hana met with an Egyptian intelligence official at the senator’s office in Washington, D.C. The group reportedly discussed a “human rights matter” involving a U.S. citizen who had been injured in an airstrike in Egypt in 2015. At the time, read the indictment, some members of Congress did not believe that the Egyptian government had fairly compensated for the American who was injured and objected to providing further military aid to Cairo.
A week later, the Egyptian official texted Hana in Arabic about the meeting, writing that if Menendez “helped to resolve the matter, ‘he will sit very comfortably,'” read the indictment. Hana purportedly replied, “orders, consider it done.”
Prosecutors also claim that Hana texted an Egyptian official in March 2020, writing, “Anytime you need anything you have my number and we will make everything happen.” A few days later, Hana arranged a meeting between Menendez and the Egyptian official to discuss “negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, andSudan over a dam on the Nile River being built by Ethiopia…which was generally regarded as one of the most important foreign policy issues for Egypt,” prosecutors alleged.
Menendez wrote a letter to then-secretaries of the U.S. Treasury and U.S. State Department within a month of that meeting to “express” his “concern about the stalled negotiations” involving the dam.
Several other such meetings took place between Menendez and Egyptian officials, with the help of Hana and Nadine Menendez, into June 2022, read the indictment.
Menendez, alongside his co-defendants, pled not guilty last month to the charges contained in the original indictment. The senator has repeatedly dismissed the allegations against him and has ignored calls by his fellow Democrats to resign. He has yet to say if he will run for reelection in 2024.
Update 10/12/23 5:42 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional comment from Senator Bill Menendez.