U.S. Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey has pleaded not guilty to charges of accepting bribes from three New Jersey businessmen. The charges state that Menendez and his wife received gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for the senator using his influence to benefit Egypt’s government and interfere with investigations of the businessmen. Menendez entered the plea alongside his wife and the businessmen at a hearing in Manhattan. Despite stepping down from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez has stated that he will remain in the Senate and fight the charges. However, over half of all Democratic senators have called for his resignation since the charges were unveiled.
The indictment against Menendez includes images of the gold bars and cash that were seized from his home. Prosecutors allege that Menendez’s wife was put on the payroll of a company controlled by one of the businessmen in return for arranging meetings between the senator and Egyptian officials. This investigation marks the third time Menendez has been under scrutiny by federal prosecutors. Despite the charges, Menendez has never been convicted. With Democrats narrowly controlling the Senate, his resignation would have significant implications for the balance of power in the chamber. The Democratic Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, has also called for Menendez’s resignation and would appoint a temporary replacement if he were to step down.
In summary, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, alleging that he accepted gold bars and cash in exchange for using his influence to benefit Egypt’s government and interfere with investigations into three New Jersey businessmen. Menendez’s wife and the businessmen have also pleaded not guilty. Despite calls for his resignation from over half of all Democratic senators and the Democratic Governor of New Jersey, Menendez has stated that he will fight the charges and remain in the Senate. This marks the third time Menendez has faced investigation by federal prosecutors, although he has never been convicted.