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Menendez hit with more federal charges in bribery case

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(The Center Square) – Embattled New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is facing new obstruction of justice charges in a federal bribery case.

Prosecutors say he and his wife Nadine sought to cover up the criminal investigation.

In a new superseding indictment, released earlier this week, the Justice Department charges Menendez with 16 criminal counts accusing he and his wife of trying to cover-up the a bribery scheme when the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York began investigating.

Menendez is already facing federal charges accusing him of acting as a foreign agent and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes to benefit the Egyptian government and New Jersey business associates.

Federal prosecutors unsealed a 39-page indictment in September accusing Menendez and his wife of accepting gold bars, cash and other bribes in exchange for wielding his political influence for Egypt and his business friends.

A month later, federal prosecutors filed a new indictment accusing Menendez of acting as a “foreign agent” for Egypt by shepherding billions in military aid that previously had been denied to the country over its record of human rights abuses. Then a second superseding indictment, filed in January, unveiled new accusations Menendez accepted gifts from the Qatari government.

The new superseding indictment comes after Jose Uribe, one of three businessmen charged alongside Menendez and his wife, pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed to cooperate with authorities. The other businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, are also facing new charges, according to prosecutors.

Federal prosecutors say Menendez obstructed justice by falsely characterizing his knowledge of the convertible payment and a more than $23,000 payment a businessman made toward the mortgage of the senator’s wife. There are other allegations.

“In truth and in fact, and as Menendez well knew, Menendez had learned of both the mortgage company payment and the car payments prior to 2022, and they were not loans, but bribe payments,” federal prosecutors wrote in the new indictment.

Menendez pleaded not guilty to charges in a previous indictment and denies any wrongdoing. He has brushed off calls to resign from New Jersey Democrats and others from his own party. Recent polls found a majority of New Jersey voters want Menendez to step down.

“Look, the bottom line is I’ve said the Senate has certain standards that we must live up to,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in remarks on Wednesday. “I am very disappointed that Senator Menendez has not lived up to those standards.”

In a statement released by his attorneys, Menendez called the new charges a “flagrant abuse of power” and accused “overzealous prosecutors” of “making wild allegations … without actually proving anything.”

“The latest charge reveals far more about the government than it says about me,” Menendez said. “It says that the prosecutors are afraid of the facts, scared to subject their charges to the fair-minded scrutiny of a jury, and unconstrained by any sense of justice or fair play. It says, once and for all, that they will stop at nothing in their zeal to get me.”

The Menendez trial is expected to get underway in May, according to federal prosecutors.

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