September 22, 2023 - Sen. Bob Menendez indicted on federal bribery charges

By Aditi Sangal and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 7:30 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023
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5:47 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

New Jersey governor calls on Menendez to resign

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called on Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez to resign after the senator was charged with corruption-related offenses today for the second time in 10 years.

"The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation," he wrote in a statement.

Here's the full statement from the governor:

"The allegations in the indictment against Senator Menendez and four other defendants are deeply disturbing. These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system. Under our legal system, Senator Menendez and the other defendants have not been found guilty and will have the ability to present evidence disputing these charges, and we must respect the process. However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation."
5:06 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

Sen. Menendez's wife and one of his co-defendants deny wrongdoing

From CNN's Kara Scannell

A lawyer for Nadine Menendez, the wife of Sen. Bob Menendez, said she would fight the federal indictment. 

“Mrs. Menendez denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend against these allegations in court,” said her attorney, David Schertler. 

CNN also has reached out to attorneys for the Menendez’ three co-defendants Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes for comment.

A spokesperson for Hana issued the following statement:

“We are still reviewing the charges but based upon our initial review, they have absolutely no merit. Mr. Hana is expected to voluntarily return to the US from Egypt and appear in court on Wednesday.”
4:42 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

Key things to know about the bribery charges announced against Menendez — and what comes next in the case

From CNN's Kara Scannell and Katelyn Polantz

Sen. Bob Menendez gets in an elevator outside the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 13.
Sen. Bob Menendez gets in an elevator outside the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 13. Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez was charged Friday with corruption-related offenses for the second time in 10 years. He previously fought off conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud charges from the Justice Department related to alleged personal favors.

Menendez is up for reelection next year, and has been in the Senate since 2006. Senate Democratic Caucus rules will force Menendez to step aside as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, but he can still serve on the panel. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Friday afternoon that Menendez has decided to step down temporarily from his position as chairman of the committee "until the matter has been resolved." 

Here's what to know about the charges announced Friday — and what is expected to happen next in the case:

Accusations of corruption: Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, are accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for the senator’s influence, according to the newly unsealed federal indictment. Prosecutors allege the bribes included gold, cash, home mortgage payments, compensation for a “low-or-no-show job” and a luxury vehicle.

Menendez is charged with three alleged crimes, including being on the receiving end of a bribery conspiracy. The conspiracy counts also charge his wife Nadine, and three people described as New Jersey associates and businessmen, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes. The group is accused of coordinating to use Menendez’s power as a US senator to benefit them personally and to benefit Egypt.

Searches turned up $500,000 in cash and more: According to the indictment, searches of Menendez’ home and safe deposit box that federal agents conducted in 2022 turned up nearly $500,000 in cash, including in envelopes inside jackets emblazoned with Menendez’s name. Prosecutors say some of the envelopes had the fingerprints or DNA of one of the business contacts from whom the senator is accused of taking bribes.

The federal investigators who searched Menendez’s home also found a “luxury vehicle paid for by [Jose] Uribe parked in the garage,” as well as home furnishings from other business contacts and gold bars.

Menendez slams indictment: In a statement Friday, the senator criticized the indictment and the charges against him. “The excesses of these prosecutors is apparent,” he said. “They have misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office. On top of that, not content with making false claims against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had before she and I even met.”

First court appearance next week: Menendez, his wife and the three New Jersey businessmen they were indicted alongside them will appear in federal court at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to the US attorney’s office. 

All five defendants indicted on Friday could face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted on the conspiracy to commit honest services fraud charge — and five years if convicted on the conspiracy to commit bribery charge.

Federal prosecutors said the investigation into Menendez is "very much ongoing" and called on the public and additional witnesses to come forward.

4:40 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

Schumer says Menendez will temporarily step down as Foreign Relations Committee chairman

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Friday that Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez has "rightly decided to step down temporarily from his position as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee until the matter has been resolved.” 

Schumer said the senator has "been a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey" and "has a right to due process and a fair trial."

3:07 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

Sen. Menendez could face up to 20 years in prison on most serious charge he faces

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz and Kara Scannell

All five defendants indicted on Friday could face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted on the conspiracy to commit honest services fraud charge — and five years if convicted on the conspiracy to commit bribery charge.

Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, also have been charged with an additional count of conspiracy to commit extortion, which also carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence.

Most defendants do not receive the maximum prison sentence allowed under federal law, and any sentencing is decided by judge presiding over the case.

2:38 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

White House declines to comment on Sen. Menendez indictment

From CNN's Donald Judd

The White House declined to comment Friday following the news New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez was charged with corruption-related offenses for the second time in 10 years, citing the Department of Justice's investigation as “an active matter.”

“So, a couple of things—I’m going to be really careful here, this is a not comment, because this is an active matter,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during Friday’s press briefing. “We learned about this just like all of you, but again, this is an active matter, so I'm not going to comment.”

Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, are accused of accepting "hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes" in exchange for the senator's influence, according to the newly unsealed federal indictment. 

Prosecutors allege the bribes included gold, cash, home mortgage payments, compensation for a "low-or-no-show job" and a luxury vehicle.

1:27 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

Rep. Phillips calls on Sen. Menendez to resign following indictment, becoming first Democrat to do so

From CNN's Sam Fossum

Rep. Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat, said he believes Sen. Bob Menendez should resign after he was charged Friday with three crimes, including being on the receiving end of a bribery scheme.

Phillips is the first Democratic lawmaker to call on the New Jersey senator to resign. 

“I'm appalled. Anybody who pays attention. I don't care what your politics, Democrat or Republican, you should be appalled. A member of Congress who appears to have broken the law is someone who I believe should resign. I think George Santos should have resigned already. Sadly, our House Ethics process, and I would argue the Senate as well, is not as proficient as it needs to be,” he told CNN’s Manu Raju on Friday. 

Phillips continued: “There is evidence here, and yes, I'm a Democrat. So is senator Menendez. But based on what I've seen, I'm disappointed. Yes, I think he should resign.”

When asked whether he believes Democratic leadership should push him out, Phillips said yes, “absolutely.”  

Senate Democratic Caucus rules will force Menendez to step aside as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, but he can still serve on the panel. Menendez is up for reelection next year, and he has been in the Senate since 2006.

1:31 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

Prosecutors seek to reclaim property and wealth Menendez gained through alleged scheme, including 13 gold bars

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

Two of the gold bars found at Menendez's house during a court-authorized search of the home.
Two of the gold bars found at Menendez's house during a court-authorized search of the home. US District Court Southern District of New York

Federal prosecutors are seeking to reclaim the property and wealth Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and others gained through the alleged schemes, including potentially by having him forfeit his home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and the 13 gold bars found in the property.

A forfeiture claim in the indictment also seeks a 2019 Mercedes-Benz convertible – which Menendez's wife gushed about with a heart emoji over text message – as well as more than $550,000 seized by investigators from his home and safety deposit box. 

The gold bars that prosecutors seized include 11 one-ounce bars and two one-kilogram bars found during the June 2022 search of Menendez's home. Prosecutors say that around that time, gold was worth $1,800 an ounce.

Menendez had searched online "how much is one kilo of gold worth" and "kilo of gold price" in the months before the gold was found in his home, the indictment adds.

The indictment alleges Menendez's wife Nadine sold some of the gold to a jeweler in Manhattan before the June 2022 search, when the price of gold was more than $60,000 a kilogram, prosecutors say. 

12:02 p.m. ET, September 22, 2023

First court hearing for Menendez and co-defendants set for Wednesday

From CNN's Kara Scannell and Hannah Rabinowitz

Sen. Bob Menendez; his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, and the three New Jersey businessmen they were indicted alongside will appear in federal court at 10:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, according to the US attorney’s office. 

Menendez and his wife are accused of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for the senator’s influence, according to the newly unsealed federal indictment.