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US Senator Menendez indicted over gifts of gold bars, luxury car

Sep 24, 2023

Washington [US], September 24: Gold bars, a luxury car and envelopes stuffed with tens of thousands in cash were among the bribes that federal authorities on Friday accused US Senator Bob Menendez of accepting as they charged him in a sweeping corruption indictment - the second the New Jersey Democrat has faced in less than a decade.
Prosecutors say that in exchange for those gifts, Menendez, 69, routinely sold the powers of his office to three New Jersey businessmen seeking his assistance with their business and legal problems. Menendez, they said, used his position as the ranking member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee to help one of the men maintain a monopoly on certifying US exports of halal meat to Egypt - an arrangement that hurt American meat producers.
Damian Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, made clear Friday that Sellinger ultimately recused himself from that case and his office resisted the alleged pressure campaign.
And as Williams unveiled the indictment charging Menendez; his wife, Nadine Arslanian; and the three businessmen with bribery counts that threaten to send them all to prison for decades, he noted that the senator's official website contains a page stressing it would be illegal for him to perform the type of political favors he's now accused of committing.
"But behind the scenes, Sen. Menendez was doing those things for certain people," Williams said. "The people who were bribing him and his wife." Menendez, however, remained defiant.
In a statement, the three-term Democrat, whose career in public life spans more than four decades, dismissed the allegations as "a smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos" and accused the Justice Department of "repeatedly attempt[ing] to silence [his] voice and dig [his] political grave." "I have been falsely accused before because I refused to back down to the powers that be and the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors and recognize I was innocent," he said.
"I am confident that this matter will be successfully resolved once all of the facts are presented and my fellow New Jeseyans will see this for what it is." The charges come less than six years after Menendez escaped the threat of conviction in a separate federal bribery case - one alleging that he accepted lavish gifts, flights on private jets, and campaign support from a Florida eye doctor. A jury weighting those charges deadlocked in 2017, and prosecutors opted not to retry the case.
The new indictment paints a portrait of a man with a stunning level of hubris. Undeterred by that previous brush with the law, Menendez, it alleges, brazenly began accepting bigger and more lavish payoffs almost immediately.
Source: Qatar Tribune