Democratic Senator Bob Menendez was accused of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Egypt

Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced additional charges against Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife, alleging they conspired to have the congressman act as a foreign agent for Egypt.

The invalidated allegation against Menendez, who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time of the alleged actions, adds a new dimension to the case by accusing the US senator of acting on behalf of another country.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, were charged last month with corruption-related crimes and accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for the senator’s influence.

Prosecutors said at the time that the bribes included gold, cash, mortgage payments and a luxury car.

Both Menendez and his wife have pleaded not guilty. The trial date has been set for May.

Menendez has rejected calls from fellow Democrats to resign, but has not confirmed whether he will seek re-election next year. The new charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The senator and his wife now face up to 50 years in prison if convicted.

According to the alleged plot, Menendez met with an Egyptian intelligence official in his Senate office in 2019, along with his wife and New Jersey businessman Wael Hanna, where they discussed a human rights issue involving Egypt and an American citizen who was injured in an airstrike in 2019. 2015. Some members of Congress saw Egypt did not provide fair compensation to Americans injured in the attack, which led them to oppose providing military aid to Egypt.

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Prosecutors say that after the meeting, Menendez searched for the name and claim of the injured American. A week later, the Egyptian official sent Hana a text message in Arabic telling her that if Menendez helped solve the problem, “he would sit very comfortably.” Hana replied: “Orders, consider the matter accomplished.”

Prosecutors added that the following year, in March 2020, Nadine Menendez texted an Egyptian official: “When you need something, you have my number and we will do everything.” A few days later, a meeting was arranged between the Egyptian official and the senator to discuss negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia regarding the dam that Ethiopia was building on the Nile River. Building the dam was one of the main concerns of Egyptian foreign policy. Prosecutors explained.

Within a month, according to the indictment, Menendez wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of State of the United States “expressing his concern” about faltering negotiations over the dam. “Therefore, I urge you to significantly increase the State Department’s involvement in the negotiations on (the dam),” the letter said.

Prosecutors say Menendez was aware of the Foreign Agents Act. It is illegal for a member of Congress or any public official to act as a foreign agent. Prosecutors allege that Nadine Menendez and Hanaa failed to register as agents working on behalf of Egypt and conspired to have Menendez work on behalf of Egypt. Hannah previously pleaded not guilty.

In May 2022, Menendez sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland following up on an earlier request for prosecutors to open an investigation into former lawmaker David Rivera, alleging he worked on behalf of a Venezuelan state oil company.

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Hanna’s attorney, Lawrence Lustberg, rejected the new charges.

“The new allegation that Wael Hanna was part of a dinner party plot to recruit Senator Menendez as an Egyptian government agent is as absurd as it is false,” Lustberg said. “As with the other charges in this indictment, Mr. Hanna will vigorously defend himself against this new and baseless allegation.”

Menendez’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment on the new charge.

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