(The Center Square) — Embattled U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is facing new federal charges alleging that he worked as an agent for Qatar in exchange for monetary bribes.
Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, was charged with receiving gifts from Qatar in a new superseding indictment made public Tuesday by the U.S. Justice Department that alleges the bribery and extortion scheme continued into 2023, nearly a year longer than initially alleged by federal prosecutors.
The new charges add to the legal woes for Menendez, who is already facing federal charges alleging he acted as a foreign agent and accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes to benefit the Egyptian government.
In September, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York unsealed a 39-page indictment accusing Menendez and his wife, Nadine, of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes in exchange for using his political influence to benefit the Egyptian government and business associates in New Jersey.
A month later, federal prosecutors filed a new indictment alleging that Menendez had acted as a “foreign agent” for Egypt by shepherding billions in military aid that previously had been denied to the country over its record of human rights abuses.
Among the new allegations, Menendez accepted payments from one of his co-conspirators, New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes, in exchange for using his political influence to help him obtain millions of dollars from an investment fund tied to the Qatari government.
“Those bribes included cash, gold, payments towards a home mortgage, compensation for a low or no-show job, luxury vehicles, and other things of value,” prosecutors wrote in the 50-page court filing.
Prosecutors also allege after Menendez’s home was raided by the FBI in 2022, he took steps to try to cover up the alleged bribes by paying back the mortgage payments to the businessmen and describing them as personal loans.
Menendez has vigorously denied any wrongdoing, and his attorney blasted the latest charges as “a string of baseless assumptions and bizarre conjectures based on routine, lawful contacts between a Senator and his constituents or foreign officials.”
“Those interactions were always based on his professional judgment as to the best interests of the United States because he is, and always has been, a patriot,” Adam Fee said in a statement. “This latest Indictment only exposes the lengths to which these hostile prosecutors will go to poison the public before a trial even begins.
“But these new allegations don’t change a thing, and their theories won’t survive the scrutiny of the court or a jury,” Fee added.
Menendez and his wife have pleaded not guilty to the previous charges, and he has refused to step down despite calls from fellow New Jersey Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy and Sen. Cory Booker.
A recent poll found a majority of New Jersey voters want Menendez to step down and make the allegations.