Update 11:40 a.m. EDT Sept. 27: Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife made their initial court appearances Wednesday, days after federal prosecutors accused them of taking bribes in exchange for using the senator’s power to benefit three New Jersey businessmen and the government of Egypt, according to CNN.
Following his indictment last week, Menendez was forced to step down from his role as chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, The Associated Press reported.
Original report: Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine, arrived at a federal courthouse in New York on Wednesday morning ahead of their first court appearance on corruption and bribery charges.
Neither the senator nor his wife spoke to reporters as they arrived at the courthouse in lower Manhattan, The Associated Press reported.
An attorney for Nadine Menendez, David Schertler, told Reuters that his client intends to plead not guilty and “vigorously defend” against the allegations. At a news conference Monday, her husband resisted calls for his resignation.
“I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” Sen. Menendez said.
Last week, prosecutors announced charges against the Menendezes, saying that they accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from three New Jersey businessmen from 2018 to 2022. In exchange for cash, gold bars, home mortgage payments and more, authorities said Sen. Menendez used his power to benefit the businessmen and the government of Egypt.
The businessmen, Wael “Will” Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, have also been charged as part of the investigation. Court records show that Hana pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
The case marks the second time corruption charges have been leveled at Sen. Menendez. Authorities accused the New Jersey Democrat of accepting bribes from a Florida ophthalmologist in 2015.
Prosecutors later dropped the case after a federal jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.