Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the powerful Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was charged on Friday with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes — including gold bars — to wield influence abroad and at home, aiding the government of Egypt and businessmen in New Jersey.
The three-count federal indictment, which also charges the senator’s wife and three New Jersey businessmen, accuses him of using his official position in a wide range of corrupt schemes. In one, he sought to secretly provide Egypt with sensitive U.S. government information, prosecutors said. In two others, he aimed to influence criminal investigations of two New Jersey businessmen, one of whom was a longtime fund-raiser for Mr. Menendez.
Toward that end, the senator recommended that President Biden nominate a lawyer, Philip R. Sellinger, to be U.S. attorney for New Jersey because Mr. Menendez believed he could influence Mr. Sellinger’s prosecution of the fund-raiser, the indictment said. Mr. Sellinger, who was ultimately confirmed for the post, was not accused of any wrongdoing.
In another scheme, Mr. Menendez used his position to try to disrupt an investigation and prosecution by the New Jersey State attorney general’s office, according to the indictment.
In exchange for all those actions, the indictment said, the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, accepted cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, a luxury vehicle and other valuable things. [Continue reading…]