Sen. Bob Menendez, wife, plead not guilty to fraud charges amid mounting calls for resignation
Menendez has stepped down from his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but has resisted calls to resign.
Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal fraud, bribery and extortion charges as the New Jersey Democrat faces calls to resign.
The senator was charged last week with using his official position to support Egyptian interests and benefit three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for cash and gold, which was found hidden in his house.
The couple pleaded not guilty in New York court to three counts each, according to CNN. Two of the charges carry 20-year maximum prison sentences.
Menendez has stepped down from his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he has pledged to remain in the Senate even as more than half of all U.S. Democratic senators have demanded his resignation. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, chair of the Judiciary Committee and the No. 2 Senate Democrat, on Wednesday became the highest-ranking senator to call on Menendez to step down.
The three businessmen accused of being involved in the scheme were also charged. Two of them – Fred Daibe and Jose Uribe – peaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Wael Hana, the third man, pleaded not guilty Tuesday after he was arrested earlier that day at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, where he voluntarily flew in to from Egypt to face the charges.