Updated Oct 23, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Bob Menendez pleads not guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent

Sen. Bob Menendez at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 28. Photo: Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) pleaded not guilty Monday to an additional charge in the federal bribery case engulfing him, multiple outlets reported.

Driving the news: In a superseding indictment earlier this month, prosecutors charged Menendez, the former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with conspiring to act as a foreign agent on behalf of Egypt.

  • The plea was the sole reason for the hearing Monday and lasted about five minutes, AP reports.

State of play: Prosecutors charged Menendez under a law that bans public officials from undertaking actions covered by the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires those working on behalf of foreign governments, companies, and other entities to register with the U.S. Department of Justice.

  • Two of Menendez's co-defendants in the case, his wife Nadine and Egyptian-American businessman Wael Hana, were also charged in the superseding indictment.
  • Menendez denied the allegations, saying in a statement that he had been "loyal to only one country — the United States of America."

The big picture: Menendez was indicted last month in an alleged bribery scheme, alongside his wife and a trio of New Jersey businessmen.

  • Prosecutors accused Menendez and his wife of accepting "hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes" in cash, gold, lavish gifts and more.
  • Menendez could face up to two years in prison if convicted of the new charge, per NBC News.
  • Under the charges in the initial indictment, Bob and Nadine Menendez could each face up to 45 years in prison, per Reuters.

Details: Menendez pleaded not guilty to the initial charges in late September, as did the other defendants.

  • A trial date for the case has been set for May 6, 2024.

What they're saying: "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," Menendez said in an emailed statement.

  • "Anyone who knows my record, knows this latest charge is as outrageous as it is absurd," he added. "I will not litigate this case through the press, but have made it abundantly clear that I have done nothing wrong and once all the facts are presented will be found innocent."

Zoom out: Menendez, who has resisted growing calls to resign from fellow Democrats, stepped down as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee following the first indictment.

Go deeper: Menendez charged with conspiring to act as foreign agent

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect additional details.

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