U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is expected to appear in court on Wednesday to answer to bribery and abuse of office charges.
The New Jersey Democrat will make his first appearance in a federal court in Manhattan as he stands accused of using his powerful position in Congress to secretly advance the interests of Egypt’s government and do favors for New Jersey businessmen in exchange for bribes of cash and gold bars.
Menendez, 69, has remained defiant to resign from the U.S. Senate amid a growing chorus of colleagues on both sides of the proverbial aisle, including New Jersey’s junior Senator Cory Booker. Instead, Menendez maintains his innocence against the allegations and has said he's confident he will be exonerated.
Immediately after the indictment was brought last week, Menendez stepped down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez's wife, Nadine, who prosecutors allege played an active role in collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, is also expected to be arraigned Wednesday.
One of the businessmen, Wael Hana, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges including conspiracy to commit bribery. The other two businessmen — Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes — are expected to be arraigned. Hana was arrested at New York’s Kennedy airport Tuesday after returning voluntarily from Egypt to face the charges, and was ordered freed pending trial.
In Friday’s indictment, prosecutors said the FBI executed a search warrant at Menendez and his wife's New Jersey home in 2022.
Investigators went seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars, a luxury convertible and gold bars they believed were components of payment made to Menendez as part of the bribery schemes.
They found nearly $500,000 in cash — much of it hidden in clothing and closets throughout the home. Investigators also found more than $100,000 in gold bars and the luxury vehicle.
On Monday, Menendez said that the cash found in his home was drawn from his personal savings accounts and that he kept it on-hand for emergencies.
"The allegations leveled against me are just that, allegations," Menendez said Monday in his first public remarks since the indictment was unsealed. "For anyone who has known me throughout my 50 years of public service, they know I have always fought for what is right. My advocacy has always been grounded. And what I learned from growing up as the son of Cuban refugees, especially my mom, my hero, Evangelina Menendez, everything I accomplished, I worked for despite the naysayers and everyone who has underestimated me."
According to prosecutors, one of the envelopes of cash found at the home bore Daibes' DNA. It was also marked with the real estate developer's return address.
The indictment also included detailed allegations that included Menendez allegedly giving sensitive U.S. government information to Egyptian officials.
Prosecutors, who detailed meetings and dinners between Menendez and Egyptian officials, say the lawmaker also urged fellow senators to lift a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt.
The indictment included specific references to Menendez's wife, including Hana promising to put her on his company's payroll in a low-or-no-show job in exchange for Menendez helping facilitate foreign military sales and financing to Egypt.
Prosecutors also allege Hana paid $23,000 toward her home mortgage, wrote $30,000 checks to her consulting company, promised her envelopes of cash, sent her exercise equipment and bought some of the gold bars that were found in the couple’s home.
Fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker on Tuesday joined the calls for Menendez to resign, saying the indictment contains "shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing."
Around half of Senate Democrats have called for Menendez to step down.
This is the second corruption case against Menendez, whose last trial involving unrelated allegations resulted in jurors failing to reach a verdict in 2017.
Fox News' Jamie Joseph and The Associated Press contributed to this report.