Sen. Bob Menendez Faces New Charges Of Bribery And Obstruction Of Justice

According to a superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday, federal prosecutors in New York charged Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife, Nadine Menendez, with obstructing the investigation into a years-long bribery scheme in which the senator allegedly traded his political influence for money.

Last year, the couple and three New Jersey businessmen were accused of plotting to utilize Menendez’s influence as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to benefit Egyptian and Qatari government officials, as well as assisting the businessmen in overcoming various business and legal challenges. Prosecutors claimed that in exchange, the senator and his wife took hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, gold bars, and a luxury automobile.

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted Menendez on approximately a dozen additional counts, accusing him of acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Egypt to secure military financing for that country, accepting bribes to assist one of his co-defendants’ Halal company, and attempting to disrupt various criminal investigations. Many of the freshly released indictments do not claim new action but rather accuse individuals of committing underlying crimes as part of larger conspiracies.

Prosecutors did, however, charge new obstructive behavior. The superseding indictment charges both Bob and Nadine Menedenz with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to impede justice.

According to fresh court filings, the senator’s wife is accused of meeting with one of the defendants, businessman Jose Uribe, after federal authorities issued search warrants at the Menendez residence. Nadine Menendez and Uribe allegedly discussed payments for a Mercedes-Benz convertible he provided her after the senator agreed to “influence” the prosecution of someone close to Uribe. During the discussion, Uribe agreed to inform investigators that the car payments were loans, according to prosecutors.

The couple is also alleged to have actively sought to repay a portion of the funds that prosecutors claim they received as bribes. They did this by writing checks to the businessmen, which they referred to as loans. Additionally, they engaged in the sale of gold bars.

Menendez, along with his wife and two of the businessmen, entered a plea of not guilty to the initial charges earlier this year. However, Uribe decided to change his legal strategy and pleaded guilty just last week. As a result, he is now actively cooperating with investigators.

In a statement on Tuesday, Menendez asserted his innocence and criticized the prosecutors for their alleged abuse of power.

“The government’s recent claim of a cover-up and obstruction is a false accusation,” Menendez asserted. “This latest charge speaks volumes about the government itself rather than shedding any light on my character. It reveals that the prosecutors are apprehensive about the truth, reluctant to subject their charges to the impartial examination of a jury, and devoid of any concept of justice or fairness.”

In a statement provided to CBS News on Tuesday, Wael Hana’s attorney, who owned a Halal company involved in the distribution deal that the senator is accused of illegally assisting, stated that they are currently reviewing the new charges and considering potential legal actions.

Lawrence Lustberg, the attorney, expressed his astonishment at receiving a remarkably modified charging document just two months prior to the trial. This unexpected change comes after an extensive investigation that spanned over several years.

Fred Daibes, a New Jersey developer, had his attorney decline to comment on the matter. On the other hand, Nadine Menendez’s attorney did not respond to CBS News’ request for comment.

According to previous court documents, the senator, along with his co-defendants, had several meetings with Egyptian officials. Nadine Menendez was accused of having direct communications with multiple Egyptian officials and relaying information and requests from them to Menendez.

During the search warrants conducted at the Menendez residence in 2022, federal agents made significant discoveries. Documents reveal that they recovered over $480,000 in cash, gold bars, and the Mercedes-Benz convertible that Nadine Menendez reportedly received from Uribe.

Ever since he was initially charged last year, Menendez has consistently refused to step down and has maintained his innocence, although he did resign from his position as the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In response to the previous accusations, Menendez argued that the money found by federal agents was taken from his personal savings account and set aside for “emergencies.”

In a recent ruling, a federal judge dismissed his argument that the FBI’s searches of his home and electronic devices were illegal and flawed. The judge emphasized that there was sufficient evidence to meet the legal standard of probable cause.

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