Sen. Bob Menendez indicted on federal bribery charges
Why it matters: It's the second time the powerful New Jersey Democrat has faced federal corruption-related charges in the last decade.
Driving the news: Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, are charged "with bribery offenses in connection with their corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen," the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York wrote on the social media platform X on Friday.
- Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his wife are charged with three counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
- A spokesperson for Menendez's office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
Zoom in: The indictment alleges that Menendez and his wife accepted "hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for using" the senator's "power and influence to ... seek to protect and enrich" the businessmen.
- "Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value," the indictment said.
- Prosecutors allege that Menendez "promised to and did use his influence and power and breach his official duty in ways that benefited the Government of Egypt," as well as Egyptian-American businessman Wael Hana.
- The indictment also says that Menendez "provided sensitive U.S. government information" that "secretly aided" the government of Egypt.
- In addition to Hana, New Jersey associates and businessmen Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes are also charged.
What he's saying: Menendez on Friday called the indictment a "smear campaign" and said that he remains "focused on continuing this important work and will not be distracted by baseless investigations."
- "Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists," he said.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said during a Friday press conference that special agents with the FBI executed search warrants at Menendez's New Jersey residence and safe deposit box.
- "When they got there, they discovered approximately $500,000 of cash stuffed into envelopes and closets."
- "Some of the cash was stuffed in the senator's jacket pockets, some of the envelopes of cash contain Daibes' fingerprints, Daibes' DNA," Williams said.
- The agents also discovered gold worth over $100,000.
Flashback: Menendez previously denied wrongdoing in the probe, saying in May: "I am sure it is going to end up in absolutely nothing."
- In 2015, he was indicted in New Jersey for allegedly offering public favors to a Florida eye doctor in exchange for lavish gifts, flights on a private jet, and political donations.
- However, the case ended in a mistrial in 2017.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout and Menendez's statement in response to the indictment.