Following her indictment alongside her husband, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and three other accused co-conspirators -- Nadine Menendez pleaded not guilty Wednesday on charges alleging that she participated in an elaborate and lucrative bribery scheme, as Fox News reports, only adding to concerns the legislator's fellow Democrats already have about his continued service.
The wife of the powerful Democratic lawmaker appeared in a federal courtroom in New York along with co-defendants Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, according to the outlet, and Mrs. Menendez's appearance came in the wake of a superseding indictment in which her spouse was accused of conspiring over the course of many years to act as an agent on behalf of the government of Egypt.
The senator allegedly engaged in those activities while also occupying powerful foreign policy positions within the Congress, with his wife participating in the conspiracy, as the Associated Press reports.
Specifically, Sen. Menendez is now accused of running afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a statute which mandates registration with the government for those who work “as an agent of a foreign principal," and given his position as a senator, Menendez was also already prohibited from engaging in any type of services on behalf of a foreign government.
The additional charge in the superseding indictment comes close on the heels of the original indictment which claimed that the Menendez duo accepted bribes in the form of gold bars, large amounts of cash, and even a luxury Mercedez-Benz vehicle from the aforementioned businessmen, who sought to leverage the senator's ability to influence foreign affairs.
According to the new indictment documents, the conspiracy at issue took place between January 2018 and June 2022, and in it, the senator and the other co-defendants collaborated in order for the lawmaker to engage in “a series of acts on behalf of Egypt, including on behalf of Egyptian military and intelligence officials.”
As part of the new charges, the government contents that Hana and Mrs. Menendez transmitted requests and instructions from officials in the Egyptian government to the senator, who would in turn act on them.
Soon after the superseding indictment emerged, Sen. Menendez – who had already pleaded not guilty to the prior charges against him – released a defiant statement in which he said that the government's latest contention “flies in the face of my long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and in challenging leaders of that country, including President [Fattah] El-Sisi on these issues.”
Menendez went on, saying, “I have been, throughout my life, loyal to only one country – the United States of America, the land my family chose to live in democracy and freedom. Piling new charge upon new charge does not make the allegations true.”
Proclaiming his apparent intention to fight the case against him, Menendez added, “I again ask people who know me and my record to give me the chance to present my defense and show my innocence.”
Over 30 of Menendez's fellow Democrats in the upper chamber have already called on him to resign, with Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman going so far as to argue that a vote to expel the New Jersey legislator should be held, stating, “we cannot have an alleged foreign agent in the United States Senate.”
Whether Menendez and his wife will remain a united front as the legal proceedings progress remains to be seen, but their love story to date is a rather colorful one, with a report in The Hill, which cited the New York Times, indicating that the pair met at a New Jersey IHOP restaurant in late 2018, ultimately marrying in October of 2020.
“We were introduced by the owner of the IHOP, and I didn't know at that time that Bob was a senator. He was very intelligent and had a great sense of humor, and he was very, very hot,” Nadine recalled.
Whether her husband will be able to emerge from these federal charges relatively unscathed as he did following a prior corruption indictment several years ago, only time will tell.