Federal prosecutors have accused prominent US Senator Robert Menendez and his wife of accepting bribes. The Senator, who chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, allegedly took thousands in gifts and cash in exchange for using his influence.
Manhattan prosecutors allege Menendez took bribes from three wealthy New Jersey businessmen over several years. The indictment claims he accepted luxury gifts, lavish vacations, and large donations to benefit their companies. In return, prosecutors say Menendez lobbied officials in Washington and overseas on behalf of the businessmen’s interests.
One businessman, Wael Hana, allegedly provided the Senator with private jet trips and hotel rooms. In one instance, Hana arranged a private meeting between Menendez and Egyptian government officials. There, prosecutors assert Menendez shared non-public details about pending US military aid to Egypt, worth hundreds of millions. Hana then informed Egyptian contacts aid restrictions would be lifted, according to text messages in the indictment.
Menendez and his wife face charges including bribery, fraud, and extortion. If convicted, they could face years in prison and pay millions in fines. Both have pleaded not guilty and will likely go to trial.
The case raises troubling ethical questions, as elected officials must avoid conflicts of interests and putting private gain over public duty. It also threatens to impact Menendez’s powerful committee role, which oversees foreign policy decisions with allies like Egypt.
Prosecutors now seek forfeiture of the couple’s luxury home and vehicles, plus over half a million dollars in hidden cash and gold allegedly found in their possession. The trial may shine further light on corruption at the highest levels of American politics.