U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and his wife were indicted Friday on federal bribery charges for allegedly using the senator’s influence to enrich three New Jersey businessmen and benefit the Egyptian government in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars, gold bars, and a luxury convertible.
The grand jury indictment, made public Friday morning, alleges that Menendez and his wife Nadine participated in a years-long bribery scheme beginning in 2018 with New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, according to a Friday press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
In one instance, Menendez, who is currently the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is alleged to have sought to pressure a senior official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an attempt to protect a business monopoly granted to Hana — who is originally from Egypt — by the Egyptian government.
In two more instances, Menendez allegedly tried to disrupt a criminal case brought against business associates of Uribe by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, and disrupt a federal criminal prosecution against Daibes brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
In exchange, Menendez and his wife received bribes including “gold, cash, a luxury convertible, payments toward Nadine Menendez’s home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job for Nadine Menendez, home furnishings, and other things of value,” the indictment alleges.
In a June 2022 raid of the Menendez’s New Jersey home, federal agents found what the indictment calls the “fruits of this bribery scheme,” which included the gold bars, $480,000 in cash — much of it “stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe” — some of which bore the fingerprints or DNA of Fred Daibes or his driver.
The indictment describes how shortly after Nadine began dating Menendez in 2018, she allegedly worked with her longtime friend Hana to introduce the Senator to Egyptian intelligence and military officials.
Menendez is accused of having provided “sensitive, non-public U.S. government information” to Egyptian officials, including the number and nationality of individuals serving at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
In May 2018, Menendez allegedly texted sensitive, non-public embassy information to his then-girlfriend Nadine, who forwarded it to Hana, who forwarded it to an Egyptian government official.
Later that same Month, Menendez ghost-wrote a letter on behalf of Egypt to his fellow Senators advocating for them to release a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt — a letter which the indictment states was also shared through Nadine and Hana to the Egyptian government.
As part of the alleged bribery scheme, Menendez is accused of conveying to Egyptian officials — through Nadine and Hana — whether he would approve or remove holds on foreign military financing and sales of military equipment to the country in connection with his role on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
In one example, the indictment describes how in July 2018, Menendez texted Nadine to inform Hana that he was going to sign off on a multimillion-dollar weapons sale to Egypt.
After receiving the text from Nadine, Hana forwarded it to two Egyptian officials, one of whom replied with a “thumbs up” emoji, according to the indictment.
The senior New Jersey Senator and his wife are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
The charges taken together carry a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.
The three New Jersey businessmen each face one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, for a maximum sentence of 25 years.
Menendez dismissed the allegations in a Friday statement, saying that the prosecutors “have misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office.”
This is not the first instance of Menendez’s trouble with the law — in 2012 the Daily Caller published allegations that in 2012 Menendez had solicited underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, a claim which Menendez denied.
Those allegations were backed up by another federal bribery case against Menendez, in which the Department of Justice wrote that the investigation into the prostitution claims were warranted given “corroborating evidence.”
That bribery trial ended in a hung jury.
The case against Menendez rhymes with certain allegations House Republicans have made against President Joe Biden for his actions as vice president regarding Ukrainian state prosecutor Viktor Shokin.
In 2015, Shokin became the lead investigator into the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, where Hunter Biden had been a board member since 2014, earning over $50,000 per month in some months.
Burisma was facing allegations of money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption.
At a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations event, then-Vice President Joe Biden bragged that he had threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine unless then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko fired Shokin.
“I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars,” Biden said. “I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bi–. He got fired.”
House Republicans have exposed bank payments showing that the Biden family and their business partners received over $20 million from foreign sources spread across several bank accounts during Biden’s time as vice president.
In a striking similarity to Menendez, in April 2014 Hunter Biden received the exact amount to pay for a sports car from Kazakhstani oligarch Kenez Rashikev — a $142,300 payment which Hunter’s ex-business associate Devon Archer later confirmed in testimony was for the car.
Following the payment, Archer and Hunter Biden set up a meeting in Kazakhstan to evaluate a three-way deal between Burisma executives, a Chinese state-owned company, and the government of Kazakhstan.
“During Joe Biden’s vice presidency, Hunter Biden sold him as ‘the brand’ to reap millions from oligarchs in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine. It appears no real services were provided other than access to the Biden network, including Joe Biden himself,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said of the revelations in August.
Other than Menendez’s cases, the most notable instance of a U.S. Senator being accused of bribery is the late Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr., also a New Jersey Democrat.
In the early 1980s, Williams was convicted in the Abscam investigation, which was a sting operation initiated by the FBI to root out corruption in Congress. Using undercover agents and informants, the FBI videotaped politicians accepting bribes from a fictitious Arab sheikh. Williams was found guilty of conspiracy, bribery, and conflict of interest. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Facing expulsion from the Senate, Williams resigned in 1982 before the Senate could take formal action against him. He was the first U.S. Senator in over 80 years to be convicted of a crime and the first ever to be imprisoned.
Read the full indictment against Sen. Menendez below: