Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) urged his wife not to text or email about missing payments from Will Hana, the Egyptian-American businessman with whom he and his wife were indicted Friday as part of a wide-ranging alleged bribery scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
Federal prosecutors have based much of their case against Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on texts between the senator, his wife Nadine and the co-defendants.
One of the most incriminating details in the indictment are texts that Nadine Menendez sent to her husband complaining about missing payments from a New Jersey businessman whom prosecutors say benefited financially through ownership of a company that received a monopoly to certify American meat exports to Egypt.
“I am soooooo upset,” Nadine Menendez texted her husband about the missing payments from Will Hana.
Prosecutors say Hana obtained the lucrative exclusive rights to certify halal exports because of Menendez’s influence over U.S.-Egyptian policy and U.S. arms exports to Egypt.
“I thought after everything that happened especially last Saturday and that week [referring to meetings that Menendez had with senior Egyptian officials] that at least he would honor his word one time. I don’t know if I should text Fred [Daibes] or wait. What should I do?” Nadine Menendez texted, referring to another of the co-defendants.
Menendez responded: “No, you should not text or email.”
The details of the exchange were laid out in the 39-page indictment that prosecutors filed against Menendez, his wife, Hana, Daibes and a fifth co-defendant, Jose Uribe.
Menendez proclaimed his innocence in a statement Friday.
“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 said.
The indictment claims that Menendez deleted texts and emails from his wife to hide other incriminating evidence.
Prosecutors say Nadine Menendez “conveyed” a request to her husband from an Egyptian official who sought the senator’s assistance to edit and draft a letter lobbying other senators to support U.S. aid to Egypt.
They allege Menendez “secretly edited and ghost-wrote the requested letter,” which he then sent from his personal email account to his wife, who then forwarded the letter to an associate who shared it with Egyptian officials.
Prosecutors say Menendez and his wife attempted to cover their tracks by deleting the email in which Nadine Menendez asked her husband to write the letter.
Prosecutors also contend that Menendez destroyed evidence that he intervened in a criminal prosecution of “an associate” of one of the co-defendants in exchange for receiving a $60,000 Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible.
The co-defendant, Uribe, was implicated in the criminal case and raised concerns about it to Hana, the other co-defendant.
The indictment describes two dinners that Menendez and his wife had with both co-defendants on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, 2019, when they allegedly agreed the senator would “intervene” with a senior state prosecutor to influence the outcome of the case.
The charging document states that Menendez requested and received multiple texts from his wife about the defendant and the details of the criminal case prior to calling the state prosecutor.
The senator and his wife later deleted the texts, prosecutors say.
And while the state official did not tell the prosecution team that Menendez had contacted him, the defendant resolved his case with a plea deal that did not result in a prison term, which was a more favorable outcome to the defendant than what prosecutors initially offered.
Menendez in his statement accused prosecutors of “excesses” and misrepresenting “the normal work” of a senator’s office.
“The excesses of these prosecutors is apparent. They have misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office. On top of that, not content with making false claims against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had before she and I even met,” he said.