Sen. Bob Menendez pleads innocent to brand-new charge in bribery case

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Sen. Bob Menendez pleads not guilty to new charge in bribery case

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Sen Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is seen after attending to associates at a Democratic senate luncheon in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, September 28, 2023.

Tom Williams|CQ-Roll Call, Inc.|Getty Images

Sen Bob Menendez on Monday pleaded innocent to a federal indictment implicating him of conspiring to function as a foreign representative for the Egyptian federal government.

The arraignment in federal court in Manhattan marked the 2nd time in less than 4 weeks that the Democratic senator from New Jersey went into a plea on criminal charges connected to his supposed abuse of workplace.

Menendez, who is up for reelection next year, has actually rejected misbehavior and swore not to resign.

“We are innocent. We are going to prove it,” Menendez stated in Spanish after leaving the court hearing, which lasted less than 5 minutes.

Menendez and his spouse, Nadine Menendez, were charged last month with accepting a variety of kickbacks– consisting of gold bars, money, home mortgage payments and a Mercedes-Benz convertible– as part of a yearslong “corrupt relationship” with 3 New Jersey business owners.

That indictment implicated Menendez of utilizing his power and impact in manner ins which “secretly aided the Government of Egypt,” consisting of by sharing “sensitive U.S. Government information.”

The senator and his spouse pleaded innocent onSept 27 to the preliminary three-count indictment, which charged them both with conspiring to devote bribery, sincere services scams and extortion under color of main right.

In mid-October, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment in the exact same case, charging Menendez, his spouse and among the business owners, Wael Hana, with conspiring for a public authorities to function as a foreign representative.

The brand-new criminal count declares that they “willfully and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together and with each other” to have Menendez unlawfully “act as an agent of a foreign principal.”

Four of the co-defendants in the event pleaded innocent recently to the charges in that upgraded indictment. Menendez had actually been approved a hold-up of his arraignment in order to cast formerly set up votes in the Senate.

What’s next for Menendez and Senate Democrats?

Menendez, who has actually remained in the Senate for 17 years, has actually stepped down from his function as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as he battles his criminal charges.

As Senate Democrats seek to keep their slim bulk in the chamber past the 2024 election cycle, lots of have actually honestly required Menendez to resign.

If he does step down, New JerseyGov Phil Murphy might designate a follower to serve out the rest of his term. Murphy, a Democrat, has actually likewise advised Menendez to resign.

But the senator, who formerly dealt with unassociated bribery charges in a different case that ended in a mistrial in 2017, has actually stayed bold.

“Anyone who knows my record, knows this latest charge is as outrageous as it is absurd,” Menendez stated in a declaration to NBC News after Monday’s hearing.

“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,” he stated.

“The facts haven’t changed. The government is engaged in primitive hunting, by which the predator chases its prey until it’s exhausted and then kills it.”

“This tactic won’t work,” Menendez stated in the declaration. “I will not litigate this case through the press, but have made it abundantly clear that I have done nothing wrong and once all the facts are presented will be found innocent.”