Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, was charged last month with accepting bribes in exchange for lucrative political favors.
On Thursday, he faced a new charge — that he conspired to act as an Egyptian foreign agent while serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Menendez, his wife Nadine Menendez, and a third defendant, Wael Hana, with neglecting to register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The government claims that the Menendezes were given a Mercedes-Benz convertible as a bribe, and the prosecutors have urged a judge to seize their Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, home and car.
The new indictment states that as a public official, Menendez, 69, was prohibited from acting as a foreign agent.
Menendez, Nadine Menendez, 56, Hana, and two other businessmen were accused last month of participating in a scheme to use the senator’s influence to increase U.S. aid and military sales to Egypt in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars, gold bars, and a Mercedes-Benz. Last month in court, all five defendants pled not guilty.
Menendez has stated that the allegations against him are false and that he will be exonerated. On Thursday, the senator’s attorneys, Menendez and Hana, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
After the initial indictment was made public last month, Menendez voluntarily resigned from his role as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. However, Menendez has resisted calls from fellow Democrats for him to resign from the Senate. The new charge on Thursday is likely to intensify this pressure.
As an indication of his defiant stance, Menendez was scheduled to convene a major fund-raising retreat for donors of his political action committee at a luxury resort in Puerto Rico beginning on Friday.
This is not the first time Menendez has been charged with federal malfeasance. In 2015, he was indicted in New Jersey for what prosecutors characterized as a bribery scheme involving the exchange of political favors for gifts, including luxury travel and campaign contributions, totaling close to $1 million.
In 2017, the case went to trial, but there was a hung jury.
The Department of Justice is pondering similar criminal charges for Hunter Biden. The first son allegedly failed to register as a foreign agent. Hunter Biden’s felony gun indictment and impending tax violations may thus be only the beginning of his legal troubles.
The Department of Justice stated as much in July during a plea hearing, when a federal judge specifically inquired if the government could charge the son of President Joe Biden under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The judge predicated her query on the fact that Hunter Biden’s income from foreign companies was documented in his plea agreement for gun and tax crimes.
Leo Wise, a federal prosecutor, responded to the judge that, “yes,” the president’s son could still be charged with a FARA violation. A defense attorney responded by disagreeing with Wise, contributing to the plea deal’s eventual collapse.
FARA is a law passed in the 1930s that was designed to prevent the dissemination of Nazi and communist propaganda in the United States. It requires Americans operating as “agents of a foreign principal” to disclose certain lobbying and public relations work performed on behalf of foreign entities to the government.
A person could face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both if convicted of willfully neglecting to register as a foreign agent under FARA.