Sen. Bob Menendez charged with conspiring to act as foreign agent for Egypt
Federal prosecutors have charged embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) with conspiring to act as a foreign agent on behalf of Egypt.
The big picture: The new charge comes after the former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair was indicted last month alongside his wife, Nadine Menendez, in an alleged bribery scheme.
- Menendez has denied any wrongdoing, refusing to resign his seat despite mounting political pressure and the emergence of a credible primary challenger.
Driving the news: In a superseding indictment Thursday, prosecutors charged Menendez under a law that bans public officials from undertaking action covered by the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires those acting on behalf of foreign governments, companies, and other entities to register with the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Prosecutors also charged Menendez's wife and Egyptian-American businessman Wael Hana under the law.
- Menendez conspired with his wife and Hana to perform "a series of acts on behalf of Egypt, including on behalf of Egyptian military and intelligence officials," the superseding indictment alleged.
- Nadine Menendez and Hana also communicated requests and directives from Egyptian officials to the senator, per the indictment.
What he's saying: Menendez denied the allegations Thursday, telling Axios in a statement, "The facts haven't changed, only a new charge." He said it was an "attempt to wear someone down" and he would "not succumb" to such a tactic.
- "The government's latest charge flies in the face of my long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and in challenging leaders of that country, including President El-Sisi on these issues," he said.
- "I have been, throughout my life, loyal to only one country — the United States of America, the land my family chose to live in democracy and freedom."
Zoom in: Hana and Nadine Menendez arranged meetings and dinners with the senator, "at which Egyptian officials raised, among other things, requests related to foreign military sales and foreign military financing," the indictment alleges.
- In exchange for the pair's promise that Menendez would "use his power and authority to facilitate such sales and financing to Egypt," Hana allegedly promised to put Nadine on the payroll of his company in a "low-or-no-show job," among other things.
- The indictment alleges that the senator disclosed "nonpublic information about the United States's provision of military aid to Egypt" during a dinner with Hana in 2018.
- Menendez also "secretly edited and ghost-wrote" a letter "on behalf of Egypt" trying to convince other senators to release a hold on $300 million in aid to the country, per the indictment.
Of note: Menendez is accused of seeking and receiving non-public information from the State Department on the number and nationality of people serving at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the indictment says.
- "Although this information was not classified, it was deemed highly sensitive because it could pose significant operational security concerns if disclosed to a foreign government or if made public," the indictment states.
- The senator then texted that information to then-girlfriend Nadine, without telling his staff or the State Department. She then shared that information with Hana, who forwarded it to an Egyptian government official, per the indictment.
Separately, in 2019, the senator, Nadine Menendez and Hana were pictured meeting with an unnamed Egyptian official and an Egyptian-American associate of Hana for dinner, at which they discussed foreign policy issues, prosecutors said.
- Nadine Menendez allegedly said at the dinner, "What else can the love of my life do for you?"
Flashback: Menendez and his wife were previously accused of accepting bribes in exchange for using his power to benefit three New Jersey businessmen.
- The senator stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee following the original indictment, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at the time that the move was temporary, "until the matter has been resolved."
- Menendez previously faced unrelated federal corruption charges, but in 2017 jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case.
Read the superseding indictment below:
Editor's note: This story and headline have been corrected to say that Menendez was charged with conspiring to act as foreign agent (not with acting as a foreign agent) and to show he was charged under a law banning public officials from undertaking action covered by FARA (not FARA itself).