An Egyptian official responded with a 'thumbs up' emoji when Sen. Bob Menendez offered sensitive weapons information for gold and bribes, prosecutors say
- Sen. Bob Menendez was hit with bribery charges by federal prosecutors in a newly-unsealed indictment.
- Prosecutors claim that he used his influence to cut deals for the Egyptian government and businessmen.
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife took bribes from Egyptian officials, discussing arms deals in private conversations, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Friday.
In the unsealed indictment, federal prosecutors alleged that Menendez accepted at least $480,000 in bribes from New Jersey businessmen, and Egyptian government officials were given exclusive access to Menendez.
Prosecutors claimed that Menendez provided sensitive US government data to Egypt, to which in one instance, Egyptian officials responded to a weapons deal with a thumbs-up emoji, per the indictment.
In 2018, Menendez met with Egyptian officials, where the senator expressed his support for foreign military aid for Egypt. Prosecutors claim that Menendez worked with New Jersey businessman and friend Will Hana and Menendez's wife, in his corrupt dealings.
"Tell Will Hana I am going to sign off this sale to Egypt today. Egypt: 46,000 120MM Target Practice Rounds and 10,000 Rounds Tank Ammunition: $99 million," Sen. Bob Menendez texted his wife, Nadine, per the indictment.
The text was forwarded to Hana, and then to the officials, prosecutors allege.
"Egyptian Official-1 replied with a 'thumbs up' emoji," prosecutors said in the indictment.
In June 2022, prosecutors said that federal agents executed search warrants and found the cash hidden in Menendez's home, along with gold bars, that they claimed he received in exchange for the information and access he gave to Egypt.
It's the second bribery case Menendez has faced in six years, although the first set of charges were dropped.
Prosecutors also claimed that Menendez plotted to give IS EG Halal Certified, a New Jersey-based food export company, a monopoly on US food products exported to Egypt. His wife, Nadine, was offered a"low-or-no-show job" at the company by Hana.
Egyptian outlet Mada Masr first raised red flags about the company's monopolization of halal certification in a 2019 investigation.
On Friday, Menendez responded defiantly, calling the indictment a "smear campaign," that misrepresented his official work. Both Hana and Nadine Menendez are also charged in the indictment.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer later said that Menendez was stepping down as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
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