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Democrat Senator Bob Menendez Indicted for Corruption
A newly unsealed indictment, released today, has revealed an elaborate bribery and corruption scheme orchestrated by New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez.
Senator Menendez and his wife “agreed to, and did accept, hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for using Menendez’s power and influence as a senator to seek to protect and enrich” various New Jersey associates and “the Arab Republic of Egypt.”
In essence, Menendez was acting as an agent of a foreign government – while serving as a US Senator. According to the indictment:
Menendez “provided sensitive US Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt.”
He pressured the US Department of Agriculture to protect the monopoly of an Egyptian businessman.
He also abused his authority, and sought to corruptly influence, criminal investigations and a potential US Attorney for New Jersey:
He used his power and influence to “disrupt a criminal investigation and prosecution undertaken by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office” related to an associate.
And, he used his power to recommend a person as US Attorney for the District of New Jersey who “Menendez could be influenced by Menendez with respect to the criminal prosecution” of an associate.
In return for these corrupt acts, Menendez was paid – and paid well. In June 2022, FBI agents found “over $480,000 in case – much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe – was discovered in the [Menendez] home, along with over $70,000 in Nadine Menendez’s safe deposit box.”
But there was more. The Menendez’s home was furnished through the bribery scheme and their luxury vehicle was paid for by their “associates.” FBI agents also uncovered two gold bars provided as part of the criminal enterprise, estimated at being worth over $100,000.
The evidence in the FBI’s possession is damning. Here’s an example.
In January 2019, Senator Menendez, his wife, and his associates agreed that Menendez would attempt to influence a New Jersey criminal investigation “in exchange for a car.” Senator Menendez delivered, getting the New Jersey defendant a guilty plea “that recommended a non-incarceratory sentence.” This plea was more favorable that that which prosecutors had initially offered.
In return, Menendez’s associates provided his wife $15,000 in cash at a restaurant parking lot. The very next day, Nadine Menendez made a $15,000 down payment on a new Mercedes Benz. After providing that down payment in cash, the Menendez associate would then pay the monthly financing payments for the car, masking the source of the payments by making them through business associates or through a company he controlled.
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A Foreign Agent for Egypt.
In 2018, Nadine Menendez and a business associate “worked to introduce Egyptian intelligence and military officials to Menendez for the purposes of establishing and solidifying a corrupt agreement” in which hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes would flow to the Menendez’s “in exchange for Menendez’s acts and breaches of duty to benefit the Government of Egypt.” This included military sales and military financing.
Menendez was targeted with the bribes because he was Chairman (or ranking member) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which gave him substantial influence over money and arms flowing to Egypt. The State Department had issued holds on military financing to Egypt, totaling over $250 million, for Egypt’s human rights abuses. Instead of reforming their system, Egypt just paid off a US Senator. (His wife got a no-show job out of it.)
During this time, Senator Menendez was feeding sensitive information to the Egyptians “regarding the number and nationality of persons serving at the US Embassy in Cairo”, as well as non-public information on military aid. In fact, Menendez went so far as to work on behalf of the Egyptian government:
“Menendez secretly edited and ghost-wrote the requested letter on behalf of Egypt seeking to convince other US Senators to release a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt.”
Menendez would also sign off for a $99 million sale of ammunition (120mm target rounds and tank ammunition), which met the request of Egyptian officials.
More Details on the Bribery Payments
Menendez’s wife formed a shell company “to receive bribe payments”. She would text: “every time I’m in a middle person for a deal I am asking to get paid and this is my consulting company.”
Yet this wasn’t the only way the Menendez’s enriched themselves. Their associates would pay $23,000 to bring Nadine’s mortgage current. Checks were “personally” delivered to Senator Menendez.
The lack of payments was, seemingly, a matter of regular discussion between Senator Menendez and his wife. In the fall of 2019, Nadine complained to Bob via text that she hadn’t been paid, and wondered if she should text their associate concerning the debt. Bob responded: “No, you should not text or email.” Nadine would then call the associate; the next day, she received $10,000.
During the course of Egyptian negotiations concerning a dam to be built on the Nile River (one of the most important foreign policy issues for Egypt), Menendez would demand the State Department increase its engagement on that issue. Soon thereafter, the Menendez home would receive thousands of dollars in exercise machines and an air purifier.
In June 2021, Menendez would meet with Egyptian officials and provide them with information to help them prepare for meetings with US Senators. Two days later, the Menendez Egyptian associate would purchase “22 one-ounce gold bars”; two of them were found in the Menendez home during the search.
Menendez sought to obstruct a federal criminal prosecution.
The indictment further alleges that Menendez, in exchange for gold bars and cash and furniture, agreed to influence the pending federal prosecution of a co-defendant.
In furtherance of that scheme, Menendez would meet with a candidate for the US Attorney for New Jersey and pressure him to look into the case. That person would eventually be nominated as US Attorney under recommendation from Menendez.
However, due to Menendez’s contacts concerning the case, that official had to recuse. Menendez would call the attorney handling the case - and then provide updates to his associate. The pressure Menendez put on the US prosecutors wasn’t of much effect; his associate pleaded guilty and received probation. Yet Menendez and his wife would receive gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash for their efforts.
Menendez faces three counts:
Conspiracy to commit bribery;
Conspiracy to commit honest services fraud; and
Conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
He’s looking at years in jail if convicted. While the evidence is damning, will it be sufficient for a New Jersey jury?
Maybe not. Recall that Menendez’s previous corrupt trial ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. In that case, Menendez was alleged to have received more than $600,000 in political contributions in exchange for political favors.
That evidence was insufficient for some jurors to overcome their political allegiances. Just like in the last case, the vast majority of jurors will be Democrats. That fact alone may be enough for Menendez to escape justice.