Federal prosecutors reportedly hit embattled Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez with new charges in a superseding indictment returned in New York on Tuesday, according to ABC News.
The new charges reportedly allege that Menendez made positive statements about Qatar and received luxury items, such as wristwatches, in return for his comments, according to ABC. In September, Menendez — then the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — was charged with three felony counts related to alleged bribery schemes involving Egypt by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
The high-end wristwatches that were allegedly offered to Menendez ranged in value from $10,000 to $24,000, according to ABC7, citing the yet-to-be-released superseding indictment. Menendez pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him in September.
The government’s new allegations stink of desperation. Despite what they’ve touted in press releases, the government does not have the proof to back up any of the old or new allegations against Senator Menendez,” Adam Fee, counsel to Menendez, said in a statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “What they have instead is a string of baseless assumptions and bizarre conjectures based on routine, lawful contacts between a Senator and his constituents or foreign officials. They are turning this into a persecution, not a prosecution.”
“How about one of these,” the new indictment quotes co-defendant Fred Daibes as asking in a message he sent to Menendez, reportedly accompanied by photos of the watches, according to ABC7. Menendez and Daibes previously attended a function hosted by Qatari officials in Manhattan, federal prosecutors reportedly said.
Then, on Sept. 29, 2021, Daibes allegedly messaged Menendez regarding a Senate resolution in support of Qatar and its government while the Qatari Investment Company contemplated reaching a real estate investment deal involving Daibes, according to ABC7.
In March 2022, Qataris allegedly offered tickets to a pricy Formula One race in Florida to Nadine Menendez, the senator’s wife, and the Qatari Investment Company reportedly sealed a lucrative joint venture with Daibes in 2023, according to ABC7. Menendez allegedly continued to receive items of value after that, according to ABC7.
“At all times, Senator Menendez acted entirely appropriately with respect to Qatar, Egypt and the many other countries he routinely interacts with,” Fee’s statement added. “Those interactions were always based on his professional judgment as to the best interests of the United States because he is, and always has been, a patriot.”
The September indictment, meanwhile, asserted that Menendez allegedly hid wads of cash and gold bars received from associates connected to his dealings with Egypt inside of his home, including some money stashed inside a Senate windbreaker bearing his name. That indictment also alleges that he received a Mercedes Benz convertible as a bribe payment for intervening in a criminal probe, among other accusations.