US Senator and former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, who is on trial for allegedly using his political power to benefit Egypt, has now been accused of using his political influence to help the Qatari government.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Menendez used his position to help a New Jersey developer receive support from a Qatari sheikh's investment fund. Menendez allegedly received bribes including cash, gold bars, Formula 1 tickets and designer watches.
In exchange for the bribes, prosecutors said, developer Fred Daibes asked Menendez to take steps to benefit the Qatari government.
The expanded indictment strengthens prosecutors' case that Menendez used his powerful position to accept bribes from foreign governments.
"The administration's new charges reek of desperation," Adam Fee, one of Menendez's lawyers, said of the expanded indictment.
"No matter what they tell the press, the administration has no evidence to support the old or new charges against Menendez," Fee said.
The lawyer said Menendez had no improper relationship with either Qatar or Egypt.
Bob Menendez was charged in a 39-page indictment filed on September 22nd in the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York with taking bribes with his wife Nadine (Arslanian) Menendez.
In addition to the gold bars and hidden cash found during a search of his home, the indictment also drew attention to Menendez's influence on official aid to Egypt, especially during his tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has a say in military aid to foreign countries in Congress, and his ties to Egyptian business people and companies in New Jersey.
Menendez, who was forced to resign as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the day after the indictments, resisted pressure from his party and the public, stating that he would not resign from his seat in Congress.
Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, is known in the US Congress for his anti-Turkey stance and his close ties to the Greek and Armenian lobbies.
Menendez was one of the leading opponents of the US sale of F-16s to Turkey, and had been raising his discomfort with Turkey's policies in the Mediterranean and Aegean at every opportunity.