Following Hunter Biden‘s indictment, the Democratic camp has been rocked by yet another scandal involving Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) as the 2024 presidential election looms.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York charged Menendez and his wife Nadine for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, namely Will Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes. The five are named as defendants in the case.
Menendez was accused of accepting bribes in exchange for using his power and influence as a senator to protect and enrich the three businessmen as well as the government of Egypt, the 39-page indictment filed with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York and unsealed on Friday showed.
The bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value.
Nadine allegedly acted as an intermediary through whom the bribe flowed. The indictment alleges that Menendez provided sensitive U.S. government information to Egypt and pressured a USDA official to protect a business monopoly granted to one of the businessmen by Egypt.
The senator has also been accused of using his power to disrupt a criminal investigation into Uribe. Additionally, Menendez allegedly used his power to recommend the presidential nomination of someone whom he could influence with respect to a federal criminal prosecution of Daibes.
The bribes allegedly accepted by the senator included about $480,000 in cash stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe; $70,000 in his wife’s safe deposit box; over $100,000 worth of gold bars; a luxury vehicle; and home furnishings.
The grand jury has charged them on three counts: conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
The five defendants are required to appear in the federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. for the first hearing.
Menendez is facing pressure from his own part to resign. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said in a statement released Friday, “The allegations in the indictment against Senator Menendez and four other defendants are deeply disturbing.”
“However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation,” he added.
Former New Jersey governor and Republican presidential primary candidate Chris Christie also weighed in on the development. “The indictment against Bob Menendez is sickening,” said Christie in a post on X.
“I know how to fight corruption because I’ve done it. His conduct is unacceptable and he needs to go,” he added.
In a statement released to the press, Menendez dismissed the indictment as an attempt to silence his voice and dig his political grave.
“The excesses of these prosecutors are apparent,” he said, adding, “Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction.”
“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere,” Menendez said in response to the rising calls for his resignation.
This is not the first time the senator has been caught in a legal tangle. In 2015, he was similarly indicted on bribery charges, although he was never convicted.
Menendez was preparing for another run for a fourth Senate term and he is up against at least one Democratic challenger.
Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) confirmed he is running against the tainted Congressman. “After calls to resign, Senator Menendez said, ‘I am not going anywhere.’ As a result, I feel compelled to run against him. Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better. We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity,” he said.
A Politico report said, “Kim’s announcement acts as a sort of starting gun to replace New Jersey’s senior senator,” adding that the state has a handful of potential successors in the wings.
The Republican mayor of Mendham Borough, Christine Glassner, has also thrown her hat into the GOP primary race for the Senate seat.
Menendez currently serves as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which shapes the foreign policy of the country. He is also a senior member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
Produced in association with Benzinga
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