After the indictment against the beleaguered senator, who has previously been indicted, was released on Friday, numerous colleagues asked him to stand down.
In statements, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called the allegations ‘deeply disturbing’ and asked the senator to stand down.
In similar fashion, Republican Bill Pascrell Jr, one of the most senior members of the state’s congressional delegation said the gravity of the charges was the difference.
Pascrell said: ‘This is a sad day for our great state. The senator deserves his day in court.
‘But given the gravity of these charges I do not believe that Senator Menendez can continue to carry out the important duties of his office for our state.’
Governor Phil Murphy released a statement saying: ‘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.’
Despite this, Menendez fought off calls for him to step down from his role, saying: ‘Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty.
‘I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades. I am not going anywhere.’
After the indictment was released, Menendez claimed he had been the victim of a racist witch hunt against him.
He said: ‘Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first generation Latin American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. senator.
‘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 added he would not be ‘distracted by baseless allegations’ but continue his work as senator.
Multiple gold bars were found during a court-authorized search of the couple’s home in June 2022.
The gold bars were part of the hundreds of thousands in bribes the couple are accused of accepting, which totaled over $400,000.
Agents also discovered over $500,000 worth of cash stuffed into envelopes and in jackets belonging to the senator.
The criminal indictment claimed the New Jersey senator Googled ‘How much is one kilo of gold worth?’ after arriving home from a trip to Egypt in October 2021.
Menendez Googled the price of gold another time, soon after his wife thanked Fred Daibes, a New Jersey businessman and longtime Menendez associate, for ‘Christmas in January,’ according to the document.
Daibes is an old friend of Menendez, has fundraised for his Senate campaign, and allegedly has ties to the Genovese mob family.
The indictment alleges that Menendez tried to disrupt a federal criminal prosecution of Fred Daibes in exchange for the money and other items of value.
Daibes and two others, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, were involved in paying ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes’ in exchange for the senator using his power to secretly benefit the Egyptian government, according to the indictment.
Uribe allegedly bought Menendez and Nadine the luxury vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible worth more than $60,000.
In exchange, Menendez ‘agreed and sought to interfere in a New Jersey state criminal prosecution of an associate of Uribe,’ the indictment states.
The couple face three criminal counts each: conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
The three businessmen face charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
The indictment also charges the senator with providing ‘sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt.’
The probe also looked at other bribes allegedly paid to the couple. ‘Those bribes included cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value,’ the indictment said.
Menendez and his wife reportedly sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold bars despite having faced foreclosure just three years earlier and neglecting to initially disclose it on their ethics filings.
Businesswoman Nadine Arslanian, 56, cashed in up to $400,000 worth of gold last spring, in a sale that occurred just months before a federal investigation into the New Jersey Democrat was announced to the public.
Damian Williams, attorney with Southern District of New York, outlined the charges and supporting evidence during a press conference Friday morning.
Williams said the couple used Menendez’s ‘power and influence to protect and enrich the businessmen and benefit the government of Egypt.’
He noted investigators ‘executed a search warrant and discovered over $500,000 worth of cash stuffed into envelopes and the senator’s jackets’ and a ‘lot of gold’.
David Schertler, a lawyer for Nadine Menendez, said she ‘denies any criminal conduct and will vigorously contest these charges in court.’
The indictment charges Menendez ‘promised to and did use his influence and power’ to pressure President Joe Biden to nominate a U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who Menendez ‘believed could be influenced by Menendez with respect to the federal criminal prosecution of Fred Daibes.’