US Senator Bob Menendez has temporarily stepped down as head of the chamber’s powerful foreign relations committee after his indictment for bribery charges.
According to the Justice Department prosecutors, Robert Menendez and his wife Nadine Arslanian received substantial bribes in exchange for aid to Egypt’s government.
Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday that Mr. Menendez had decided to step down as chairman of the influential committee “until the matter has been resolved,” BBC reports.
Prosecutors allege that the couple accepted bribes, including gold bars and envelopes of cash from New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes. The money was purportedly received in secret in exchange for Menendez’s agreement to use his official position to protect and enrich them and to benefit the Government of Egypt. Both Menendez and his wife have strongly denied these charges.
The indictment includes three criminal counts: conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
Bob Menendez, aged 69, currently chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and secured his third Senate term in 2018. The indictment highlights Menendez’s position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which, according to the 39-page document, allowed him to wield considerable influence.
— New York Post (@nypost) September 22, 2023
Menendez Response to Bribery Allegations
Menendez staunchly refutes the allegations, describing them as politically motivated. In the summer of 2022, federal agents executed search warrants at his residence, uncovering evidence of bribery agreements, including over $480,000 in cash, gold bars, and a Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicle.
The indictment alleges that Menendez and his wife actively assisted the Egyptian government, with Menendez allegedly writing a letter on its behalf. Prosecutors say the purpose of the letter was to persuade other U.S. senators to lift the freeze on $300 million in aid to Egypt.
As a result of bribery charges, the Menendez couple has been asked to forfeit several assets, including their New Jersey home. They are scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court on September 27. This is not the first time Senator Menendez has faced bribery charges. He was previously indicted in New Jersey in 2015, resulting in a mistrial due to a hung jury.
Menendez Words About Greece
Menendez has often supported Greece and Cyprus publicly. In February, Menendez commended Greece for its leadership in energy diversification during the 1st East Macedonia & Thrace Forum in Alexandroupolis. He highlighted the city’s transformation into an energy hub, emphasizing Greece’s commitment to clean energy, particularly in solar and wind innovations.
Menendez stressed the significance of strengthening U.S.-Greek relations and mentioned key legislative efforts, such as the Eastern Mediterranean Security & Energy Partnership Act and the US-Greece Defense & Interparliamentary Partnership Act. He also noted the importance of reducing regional dependence on fossil fuels, promoting security, and fostering prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean.