New Charges Against Sen. Menendez Say He Acted as Foreign Agent

Rep. Andy Kim has called for the Senate to vote on expelling Menendez.

Robert Menendez
Photo: Shutterstock/lev radin

In a stunning new charge by federal prosecutors, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez has been accused of acting as a foreign agent of Egypt while he served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

His wife, Nadine Menendez, and a third defendant, New Jersey businessman Wael Hana, have also been charged with failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Hana is from Bayonne but moved to a luxury apartment building in Englewood after he was awarded a contract to certify halal products for Egypt’s 90 million Muslims, allegedly through his connections with Senator Menendez.

Nadine Menendez, formerly Nadine Arslanian, was a divorced mother of two living in Englewood Cliffs when she met her husband at an IHOP in Union City; the two fell in love over pancakes.

The charges are in addition to allegations brought against Senator Mendez, 69, his wife, Hana and two other businessmen last month that involved a Mercedes-Benz convertible, bars of gold bullion and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash that were allegedly exchanged for the senator’s sway in increasing U.S. aid and military sales to Egypt.

Prosecutors have asked a judge to seize Senator Menendez’s Englewood Cliffs residence and the Mercedez-Benz. As a public official, he is prohibited from acting as a foreign agent.

Last month, all five defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. Senator Menendez, who is scheduled to host a major fundraiser in Puerto Rico this weekend, has denied all charges.

In an emailed statement, Larry Lustberg, an attorney for Wael Hana, denied the charges against his client:

“The new allegation that Wael Hana was part of a plot concocted over dinner to enlist Senator Menendez as an agent of the Egyptian Government is as absurd as it is false. As with the other charges in this indictment, Mr. Hana will vigorously defend against this baseless allegation,” he said.

It’s the second time Mr. Menendez has faced federal corruption charges; in 2015, he was indicted in New Jersey in an alleged bribery scheme, but the case ended in a hung jury.

NJ Democrats, including Governor Phil Murphy, have called on Menendez to step down. Rep. Mikie Sherrill tweeted: “These are serious allegations against Senator Menendez and if proven true, there is no room for this kind of conduct in public service.” She has also called for Menendez to resign.

On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who was the first major candidate to announce that he will launch a primary bid against the three-term senator, called for the U.S. Senate to hold a vote to expel Menendez. (Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s name has also been floated as a possible candidate.)

Kim wrote on social media on Thursday: “As a former national security official who swore an oath to defend our Constitution, I cannot stand by as the Senator representing my family and my state has been accused of acting as a foreign agent. Given the severity of these charges, the US Senate should vote on expulsion.”

Menendez has rejected pressure to resign, saying, “I am not going anywhere.”

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