Senator Menendez Concerned
Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee POOL via AFP / BONNIE CASH/BONNIE CASH

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez has been hit with further criminal charges this Thursday. Now, prosecutors accused him of acting as a foreign agent on behalf of Egypt. His wife and Egyptian-American businesswoman Wael Hana, was charged as well.

Concretely, they were accused of conspiring to perform "a series of acts on behalf of Egypt, including on behalf of Egyptian Military and intelligence officials". Menendez's wife and Hana also communicated requests and directives from Egyptian officials to the senator, whose parents hailed from Cuba. The Department of Justice requires all people, companies and other entities who act on behalf of foreign governments to enter a register.

The charges come a few weeks after the first charges against Menendez: on September 22, he and his wife were accused of accepting bribes linked to Egypt in exchange for using his influence as a senator to benefit three businesspeople from the state he represents. The indictment alleges that Menendez received bribes in the form of gold bars, cash and luxury vehicles.

The senator has stepped down from his position of chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but so far rejected all charges. In late September que used his Latin heritage to deflect criticism as his Capital Hill colleagues call on him to resign.

"Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction," said Menendez. Even worse, they see me as an obstacle in the way of their broader political goals."

Menéndez is the son of Cuban immigrants who was first elected into Congress as a U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 13th district in 1993. After spending some years in the House of Representatives, in 2006, he was appointed by New Jersey's governor to fill a vacancy in the Senate.

Menéndez and the other defendants could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the initial charges. The figure could increase if they were to be found guilty of the new ones.

According to the latest accusation, Hana and Nadine Menendez arranged meetings with the senator. There, "Egyptian officials raised, among other things, requests related to foreign military sales and foreign military financing." In exchange for advancing Egyptian interests, Hana promised Menendez's wife a "low-or-no-show job" in her company, among other things.

The charges also describe Menendez allegedly ghost-writing a letter "on behalf of Egypt" aimed at convincing other senators to release a hold on $300 million in aid to the country.

Though Menéndez and his wife have pleaded not guilty to the first charges and were released on bond, there has been a deluge of senators urging the senator to resign. Among the senators are Latino lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Gregorio Casar (D-TX), U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA).

Aguilar, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, publicly addressed Menendez, stating that he is not being targeted because of his Latino Heritage. "It doesn't bring me joy to say that he should resign," said Aguilar. "Latinos face barriers and discrimination across the board in so many categories, including in our justice system. This is not that."

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