NATIONAL NEWS

Sen. Bob Menendez hit with new conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges

Mar 5, 2024, 4:04 PM

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee heari...

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee hearing on Jan. 11 in Washington, D.C. The hearing examined legislative solutions and public education for stopping the flow of fentanyl into and throughout the United States. (Kent Nishimura, Getty Images

(D-NJ)

(CNN) — New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez was indicted Tuesday on a dozen new criminal charges related to a years-long bribery scheme involving the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

The new charges come days after Jose Uribe, one of the New Jersey businessmen who was previously indicted alongside Menendez, his wife Nadine Menendez, and two others, agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the investigation.

Among the new charges in the superseding indictment are conspiracy, obstruction of justice, public official acting as a foreign agent, bribery, extortion and honest services wire fraud.

Menendez had faced four counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, and conspiracy for a public official to act as a foreign agent.

The new charges add the underlying so-called substantive crimes to the conspiracy charges.

Menendez has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors of targeting him.

“Not content – or capable – of meeting those facts fairly at trial, the government has now falsely alleged a cover-up and obstruction,” Menendez said in a statement Tuesday.

“The latest charge reveals far more about the government than it says about me,” the senator added. “It says that the prosecutors are afraid of the facts, scared to subject their charges to the fair-minded scrutiny of a jury, and unconstrained by any sense of justice or fair play. It says, once and for all, that they will stop at nothing in their zeal to get me.”

Menendez, who is up for reelection this year, was initially charged last year. Prosecutors say that Menendez and his wife received gold bars, cash, a Mercedes Benz convertible and other items in exchange for taking steps to help three businessmen, and the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

The New Jersey senator has not said if he will seek another term, but he has rejected calls by fellow Democrats to resign. He did, however, step down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee soon after he was charged.

Menendez and wife attempted to cover up bribery scheme, indictment says

The new indictment provides additional details about the alleged attempts to cover up the bribery scheme, including by having their former lawyers give misleading information during meetings with federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors allege that the senator caused his then-lawyer to meet with prosecutors in June 2023 and September 2023 to argue that he had been unaware until 2022 of the $23,568 payment one of the New Jersey businessmen made on the mortgage of Nadine Menendez’s house or the car payments.

His attorney also told prosecutors the payments were loans, according to the indictment. Checks written by the senator to repay “loans” were turned over to prosecutors.

“In truth and in fact, and as Menendez well knew, Menendez had learned of both the mortgage company payment and the car payments prior to 2022, and they were not loans, but bribe payments,” according to the indictment. Prosecutors allege Nadine Menendez also caused her attorney to make false statements to authorities.

After FBI agents searched the Menendez home and subpoenas were sent seeking information about the car payments, prosecutors allege, Uribe stopped making the payments. Soon after, Nadine Menendez met with Uribe.

Nadine Menendez asked Uribe what he would say if he was asked by law enforcement about the car, prosecutors allege. Uribe, according to the indictment, told her he would say the payments had been a loan. She agreed that it sounded good, the indictment alleges.

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Sen. Bob Menendez hit with new conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges