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 March 13, 2024

Sen. Menendez pleads 'not guilty' to new charges of obstruction of justice

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and his wife pleaded not guilty on Monday to twelve new charges accusing them of obstructing justice during an investigation into allegations of bribery, as reported by The Associated Press.

"Once again, not guilty your honor," Menendez stated after Judge Sidney H. Stein requested his plea.

The charges

The couple faces accusations of conspiring to conceal alleged bribery schemes involving three New Jersey businessmen while under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

These charges are in addition to previous allegations that Menendez accepted "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in bribes to benefit the businessmen and the Egyptian government, acting as an agent for Egypt and receiving gifts from Qatar.

With these new charges, Menendez faces a total of sixteen counts, while his wife, Nadine, faces fifteen. The latest charges follow the recent guilty plea of their co-defendant, businessman Jose Uribe.

The latest developments

Uribe admitted last week to attempting to bribe the Menendez couple with a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for the senator's political influence.

As part of his plea deal, Uribe is obligated to testify truthfully if called upon at any future proceedings, including Menendez's trial scheduled to commence on May 6.

Prosecutors alleged that after Uribe's cooperation, Menendez falsely portrayed his awareness of the convertible payment and a $23,000 payment made by another businessman, Wael Hana, towards Nadine Menendez’s mortgage.

What will happen next?

The updated indictment claimed that Menendez urged his counsel to initially inform the government that he was unaware of the payments until 2022, and later asserted in 2022 that he learned the funds were loans, although they were allegedly bribes.

Nadine Menendez was accused of instructing her attorneys to inform prosecutors that the payments from Uribe and Hana were loans.

The indictment revealed a previously undisclosed meeting between Nadine Menendez and Uribe, during which they agreed to characterize the convertible payment as a loan if questioned by law enforcement.

Following his initial indictment in September, Menendez stepped down from his role as chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in accordance with Democratic Conference rules.

Through his lawyers, Menendez maintained his innocence, denouncing the latest indictment as a "flagrant abuse of power." However, the courts may see the issue differently as the evidence grows in the case against the Democratic senator.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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