U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty Wednesday to corruption charges in a New York federal court, where he appeared with his wife after their indictment in a bribery case involving Egypt.
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The Democratic parliamentarian, head of the influential Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, arrived at the court on Wednesday morning, with his wife Nadine Arslanian.
They were notably awaited outside by a person who held a sign crossed out with the word “resign” in black capital letters.
The senator has so far remained deaf to calls for resignation from his own camp.
He was indicted for corruption, accused of having accepted between 2018 and 2022 “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes from three residents of the state of New Jersey, where he is elected, and “using his power and influence to protect and enrich these businessmen and support the Egyptian government.”
Manhattan federal prosecutor Damian Williams detailed the discovery, during a search, of “wads of cash stuffed in his jacket pockets,” three kilos of “gold bars” and a luxury car, as much of elements “which were part of the fraud”.
On Monday, the 69-year-old elected official of Cuban origin, a veteran of politics, disputed the facts during a press conference, referring to “allegations and simply that, allegations.”
“For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies due to my family’s history of facing confiscations and seizures in Cuba,” he justified.
Accused by the courts of having favored the Egyptian government, an ally of Washington, particularly during arms sales, the Democratic senator recalled that he had “directly questioned President (Egyptian Abdel Fattah) al-Sissi on attacks on human rights, arbitrary detentions, freedoms, etc.
Robert Menendez had already been indicted for corruption in 2015 but his trial was canceled in 2017, due to a lack of a unanimous verdict from the jurors. And in 2018, the Justice Department — under the presidency of Republican Donald Trump — asked a judge to drop all charges against him.