Bob Menendez, a prominent senator, faces bribery charges


When FBI brokers searched the house of Bob Menendez, New Jersey’s senior senator, in June final 12 months, they discovered $100,000 in gold bars and $480,000 in hidden money. A few of the cash, stuffed in envelopes, was hidden in garments, together with jackets with Mr Menendez’s identify stitched into them that had been hanging in his wardrobe.

The main points of the search are specified by an astonishing indictment unsealed on September twenty second. Mr Menendez, who has resigned because the chairman of the Senate international relations committee, and his spouse, Nadine, are accused of a mess of misdeeds, not least of which is sharing delicate info with Egyptian officers. In addition they allegedly accepted presents of the gold bars in trade for safeguarding associates.

The three-count indictment additionally asserts that Mr and Mrs Menendez accepted tons of of hundreds of {dollars} in bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, who had been additionally charged. The bribes the couple are accused of taking embrace house mortgage funds, compensation for a “low or no-show job”, house furnishings and a Mercedes-Benz. Mr Menendez denies any wrongdoing. He stated the prosecutors are making “false claims” in opposition to him and his spouse. He asserts that the federal prosecutors have “misrepresented the traditional work of a congressional workplace”.

What had been the bribes for? The indictment asserts that Mr Menendez shared delicate and personal info with Egyptian authorities officers, with Will Hana, one of many charged New Jersey businessmen, appearing as go-between.

In Could 2018 the senator allegedly advised Mr Hana {that a} authorities ban on gross sales of arms and ammunition to Egypt had been lifted. Mr Hana then texted this info to an Egyptian official. That July, Mr Menendez texted his spouse to inform Mr Hana that he was going to “log out” on a sale of $99m-worth of ammunition to Egypt. Mrs Menendez then forwarded the textual content to Mr Hana, who forwarded it to 2 Egyptian officers. One responded with a “thumbs up” emoji. Mr Menendez can also be accused of ghost-writing a letter lobbying different senators to assist lifting a maintain on $300m in support to Egypt.

Mr Menendez is claimed to have used his place to assist the three businessmen. The indictment alleges that the senator pressured an official on the federal Division of Agriculture with a purpose to defend a enterprise monopoly associated to halal certification owned by Mr Hana. It additionally says he tried to disrupt legal investigations by New Jersey’s attorney-general associated to one of many different two. He really useful President Joe Biden nominate a sure particular person as New Jersey’s federal lawyer. The indictment says Mr Menendez believed he might affect the nominee to disrupt prosecutions of his enterprise associates (the nominee, who turned the state lawyer, is just not accused of wrongdoing).

This isn’t Mr Menendez’s first indictment. Scandal and investigation have dogged him for almost twenty years, at the same time as his political profession thrived. In 2015 he was accused of accepting free flights on a personal aircraft in trade for lobbying on the proprietor’s behalf in a billing dispute and serving to to course of visas. The case went to trial in 2017, and ended with a hung jury. In 2006, earlier than he turned senator, then state lawyer, Chris Christie, who would later grow to be New Jersey’s governor and a presidential hopeful, investigated allegations that Mr Menendez profited from hire paid by a charity for which he helped to rearrange federal funding. He was by no means charged with against the law, and stated a congressional ethics committee had given its approval.

The senator has “exceptional survival expertise”, says Micah Rasmussen, head of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. A part of that’s all the way down to his personal tenacity. He was barely out of his teenagers when he was first elected to public workplace. As mayor of Union Metropolis, in north New Jersey, a notoriously corrupt spot, he bravely took on politicians in mattress with the Mafia. After his 2017 mistrial he stated: “To those that had been digging my political grave so they might leap into my seat, I do know who you might be and I received’t neglect you.” Some New Jersey politicians, together with his senate colleague, Cory Booker, attended the trial in assist. Voters have had the possibility to throw him out, and haven’t.

These newest prices could also be tougher to flee (and extra could also be on the best way). “Even by New Jersey requirements, this feels completely different,” says Mr Rasmussen. Mr Menendez is adamant he’s harmless. “Since this investigation was leaked almost a 12 months in the past, there was an energetic smear marketing campaign of nameless sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety the place none exists.” He and his spouse are anticipated to look at a listening to in Decrease Manhattan on September twenty seventh. 

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