He is said to have been bribed with gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars - now the Democratic US Senator Bob Menendez is confronted with calls for his resignation. Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey and also a Democrat, called the allegations against Menendez that became known on Friday (local time) "so serious" that his party colleague could not remain in office. These are serious allegations that affect national security and the integrity of the legal system.
The public prosecutor's office accuses the accused senator, among other things, of favoring the Egyptian government and obtaining personal benefits in return.
Menendez was charged with corruption after investigators found about $500,000 (around 469,000 euros) in cash hidden in envelopes and in the senator's jackets, New York prosecutor Damian Williams said. “Investigators also discovered a lot of gold,” Williams said. In addition to gold bars, there was talk of a “luxury car”. The indictment states that Menendez and his wife, who was also charged, accepted bribes from businessmen. Both denied the allegations.
"Menendez used his influence and power and violated his official duties in a manner that benefited the Egyptian government," Williams said. The senator also provided sensitive information to the US government. The leadership of the Democrats in the US Senate announced after the indictment became known that Menendez is now rightly suspending his office as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee until the matter is resolved.
Menendez was already suspected of corruption in 2015, but this is not related to the ongoing investigation. According to the indictment at the time, the senator is said to have received gifts worth around $1 million over the years from an ophthalmologist in Florida. In return, he is said to have secured visas for the doctor's foreign girlfriends and helped settle a fine of $8.9 million. The trial ended inconclusively in November 2017 after the jury deadlocked. In January 2018, the US Department of Justice dropped the case against Menendez.
Menendez, who has represented the US state of New Jersey in the Senate since 2006, portrayed himself as the victim of a campaign: "For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly tried to silence my voice and dig my political grave." The facts are different than those presented by the public prosecutor. He will not allow himself to be distracted by the accusations and will continue his “important work”. According to US media, the 69-year-old responded to Murphy and other politicians' calls for his resignation with the words: "I'm not going anywhere." Ultimately, the presumption of innocence applies.