U.S. Senator Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty to charges of accepting bribes from three businessmen from New Jersey. The charges allege that Menendez and his wife accepted gold bars and cash in exchange for using his influence to aid Egypt’s government and interfere with law enforcement investigations of the businessmen. Menendez, who stepped down from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has faced calls for his resignation from fellow Democrats, including more than half of all Democratic senators. However, Menendez has stated that he plans to stay in the Senate and fight the charges.
The indictment against Menendez includes images of gold bars and cash that were seized from his home. Prosecutors claim that one of the businessmen arranged meetings between Menendez and Egyptian officials, who pressured him to sign off on military aid, in return for putting Menendez’s wife on the payroll of a company he controlled. Menendez has been under investigation by federal prosecutors three times before, but has never been convicted. If Menendez were to step down, the Democratic New Jersey Governor would appoint a temporary replacement.
In response to the charges, more than half of all Democratic senators have called on Menendez to resign. The senator’s resignation would be significant for the Democratic party, as they narrowly control the Senate with 51 seats. Even the Democratic New Jersey Governor, who would make the temporary appointment, has called for Menendez to step aside. However, Menendez has expressed his intention to stay in the Senate and fight the charges. The indictment includes evidence of the bribes, including images of gold bars and cash that were seized from Menendez’s home. Menendez is accused of using his influence to aid Egypt’s government and interfere with law enforcement investigations of the businessmen. This is not the first time Menendez has faced investigation by federal prosecutors, but he has never been convicted.