Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is set to appear in court on Wednesday to face charges of taking bribes from three New Jersey businessman, as calls for his resignation from his fellow Democrats escalated.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week accused Menendez, 69, and his wife of accepting gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for the senator using his influence to aid Egypt's government and interfere with law enforcement probes of the businessmen.
Menendez, his wife Nadine Menendez, 56, and businessmen Jose Uribe, 56, and Fred Daibes, 66, are set to appear in Manhattan federal court around 10:30 a.m. ET. A third businessman, Wael Hana, 40, pleaded not guilty Tuesday.
David Schertler, a lawyer for Nadine Menendez, said she intends to plead not guilty and "vigorously defend" against the allegations. Lawyers for Bob Menendez, Uribe and Daibes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bob Menendez, who represents New Jersey, stepped down from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as required under his party's rule. But on Monday he said that he would stay in the Senate and fight the charges.
More than one-third of all Democrat senators, including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., have called on Menendez – a powerful voice on foreign policy who has at times bucked his own party – to resign since the charges were unveiled Friday.
Democrats narrowly control the chamber with 51 seats, including three independents who normally vote with them, to the Republican's 49. Democrat New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who would appoint a temporary replacement should Menendez step aside, has also called for him to resign.
The indictment contained images of gold bars and cash investigators seized from Menendez's home. Prosecutors say Hana arranged meetings between the senator and Egyptian officials – who pressed him to sign off on military aid – and in return put Nadine Menendez, 56, on the payroll of a company he controlled.
The probe marks the third time Menendez has been under investigation by federal prosecutors. He has never been convicted.
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