Menendez pleads not guilty to latest obstruction charges

Sen. Bob Menendez, wife plead not guilty to new obstruction charges

Sen. Bob Menendez, wife plead not guilty to new obstruction charges 02:02

NEW YORK — New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, pleaded not guilty to new obstruction of justice charges Monday. 

Menendez and his wife stayed silent as they entered Manhattan federal court after they were charged in an 18-count indictment last week

The couple is accused of taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, including $500,000 cash stuffed in envelopes, gold bars and a Mercedes-Benz, for political favors.

The latest indictment alleges they tried to make bribes look like loans. 

“Once again, not guilty your honor,” Menendez told the judge Monday. 

Businessman Jose Uribe recently pleaded guilty and told a judge he gave the senator’s wife a car to influence him.

Uribe claims he met with Nadine Menendez after search warrants were executed on the couple’s home and agreed to call bribes loans. He said he will cooperate with investigators.

Businessmen Fred Daibes and Wael Hana also pleaded not guilty Monday.

Wael’s attorney Lawrence Lustberg said his client is not cutting a deal. 

“My client is not going to plead guilty or cooperate. He’s not guilty and he’s going to be acquitted at trial,” said Lustberg. “That one cooperator doesn’t have much to say about him. But to the extent he does, we are confident that we can impeach his credibility.” 

Menendez, who said he will not resign, is also charged with acting as a foreign agent for the government of Egypt, which Hana allegedly has ties to. 

“His actions will be shown not to be for the benefit of the government of Egypt,” said Lustberg. 

During the arraignment, we learned the government plans on calling fingerprint and DNA experts at trial, which is scheduled to start May 6.

Sources close to Menendez, a Democrat, told CBS New York reports he is not running for reelection are false. Walking out of court, Menendez said he hasn’t ruled out running as an independent. 

The senator’s next court appearance is April 30.   

What’s in the new indictment against Sen. Menendez and his wife?

According to new court documents, Menendez’s wife met with Uribe after federal investigators executed search warrants at the couple’s home and, during the meeting, they allegedly discussed payments for a Mercedes-Benz convertible he gave her after prosecutors allege the senator agreed to try to influence the prosecution of someone close to Uribe. During their meeting, prosecutors said Uribe agreed he would tell investigators the car payments were loans. 

The couple has been charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly falsely characterizing the return of bribe money as repayment for loans.

Sen. Bob Menendez faces new obstruction of justice charges in corruption case 00:32

Menendez called the latest charges “an abuse of power” and insisted he is innocent. 

“The government has now falsely alleged a cover-up and obstruction,” he said in a statement. “The latest charge reveals far more about the government than it says about me. It says that the prosecutors are afraid of the facts, scared to subject their charges to the fair-minded scrutiny of a jury, and unconstrained by any sense of justice or fair play.”

Menendez, his wife, and the other two businessmen pleaded not guilty to the previous set of charges against them. 

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