By Steve Neavling
The Justice Department announced an additional charge against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, alleging he conspired to act as an illegal foreign agent of Egypt.
Federal law prohibits public officials from acting as foreign agents.
The Democratic senator from New Jersey and his wife Nadine Menendez were indicted last month in a sweeping bribery scheme for allegedly accepting gold, cash and other benefits in exchange for using his office to enrich three businessmen and help the Egyptian government.
Menendez and his wife, along with three businessmen, previously pleaded not guilty to the initial indictment.
The superseding indictment was filed in U.S. District Court in New York.
Prosecutors allege that Menendez “further promised to take and took a series of acts on behalf of Egypt, including on behalf of Egyptian military and intelligence officials, and conspired to do so with” his wife and Wael Hana, a New Jersey businessman from Egypt who operates a halal meat company.
According to the new indictment, Hana and Nadine Menendez “communicated requests and directives from Egyptian officials to Menendez” and did not register as foreign agents or lobbyists.
In a written statement, Menendez insisted he was innocent.
“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. 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.”
He added, “Filing new charge upon new charge does not make the allegations true. The facts haven’t changed, only a new charge. It is an attempt to wear someone down and I will not succumb to this tactic. I again ask people who know me and my record to give me the chance to present my defense and show my innocence.”