(Daily360.com) – Embattled New Jersey Democrat Senator Bob Menendez appeared in court earlier this week and pleaded not guilty to bribery charges. Menendez and his wife Nadine have been embroiled in a slew of controversies relating to bribes, payoffs and other illicit activities. The senator’s not guilty plea this week was related to accusations that he operated as an agent of the Egyptian government.
At the time of what is accused Menendez was chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The 69-year-old representative has stepped down from that position but still remains in the Senate despite calls for him to resign, including from 30 fellow Democrats on the Hill. The indictments for the Egyptian actions also include his wife Nadine and their business partner. The prosecution alleges the trio conspired to have Menendez act as an agent for the country of Egypt. No member of Congress is permitted to work on behalf of any foreign nation.
Menendez is accused of furnishing private information about the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt to Egyptian officials. Additionally, prosecutors say he was the ghostwriter of letters on behalf of Egyptian interests, intended to influence American lawmakers. Specifically, he tried to influence the outcome of a damn project that certain factions wanted blocked by the U.S. government. This charge would carry a sentence of up to five years for the defendants if convicted.
Last week, Nadine Menendez and associate Wael Hana, pleaded not guilty to other charges. Over the coming weeks all three will be pleading to charges that include influence peddling, accepting cash bribes, receiving gold bars, vacation home stays and accepting a luxury vehicle over the past five years.
Menendez is being dragged down by the charges per a recent poll, that shows 70% of New Jersey residents would prefer he step down and give up his senate seat. In a rare display of bipartisanship, 80% of Republicans, 71% of Democrats and 67% of independents would like to see Menendez resign.
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