Federal prosecutors have filed a superseding indictment against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, adding further complexity to his ongoing legal challenges.
The new indictment accuses Menendez of being an unregistered agent of the Egyptian government, a severe violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
As the New Jersey senator heads into a corruption trial set for next May, the legal proceedings cast a shadow over his political career and the future of his seat.
The superseding indictment, filed in Manhattan federal court, alleges that Menendez violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by acting as an agent of a foreign principal.
Even if he had registered as one, his position as a member of Congress forbade him from serving as an agent of a foreign government.
This development puts additional pressure on the senator, who has thus far resisted calls for his resignation.
The indictment outlines a conspiracy that allegedly took place between January 2018 and June 2022.
Senator Bob Menendez’s Controversial Meeting with Egyptian Official
It centers around a meeting in May 2019, during which Menendez, his wife, and a business associate named Wael Hana met with an Egyptian intelligence official in Menendez’s Senate office in Washington.
The discussions during this meeting revolved around a US citizen who had been seriously injured in a 2015 airstrike by the Egyptian military using a US-made Apache helicopter.
The indictment suggests that some members of Congress objected to providing particular military aid to Egypt due to this incident and concerns that the Egyptian government had not adequately compensated the injured Americans.
Following the Washington meeting, the Egyptian official reportedly messaged Hana, indicating that Menendez’s assistance could lead to favorable outcomes. Hana’s response, “Orders, consider it done,” is cited in the indictment.
These charges come on the heels of Menendez and his wife being accused of accepting bribes, including cash, gold bars, and a luxury car, from New Jersey business people who sought the senator’s influence over foreign affairs.
Both Menendez and his wife have pleaded not guilty, while Hana, the business associate, entered a not guilty plea to charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery last month.
The indictments further allege that while Menendez was the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he engaged in several covert actions to assist Egyptian officials.
These actions ranged from ghostwriting a letter to fellow senators urging the release of $300 million in aid to sharing confidential information about US embassy employees in Egypt and transmitting nonpublic information to Egyptian officials regarding military aid.
Throughout these legal proceedings, Menendez has maintained that he did nothing out of the ordinary to support Egypt and that prosecutors have misconstrued the role of a senator involved in foreign affairs.
Despite mounting pressure from his fellow senators, over 30 Senate Democrats, including Cory Booker, have called on Menendez to resign. Menendez, however, remains resolute in his position and recently informed his colleagues that he has no intention of leaving the Senate.
The senator has yet to disclose whether he plans to run for reelection next year, with Congressman Andy Kim already entering the primary race.
Furthermore, Gary Peters, the head of Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, has called on Menendez to resign, indicating that he may not receive campaign support from the party.
Senator Menendez’s legal battles continue to raise questions about his political future and the future of his Senate seat.
Source: The Guardian