A growing list of federal allegations against Sen. Bob Menendez is “very serious,” the White House said Thursday, but maintained any decision on his ouster should be made within the halls of Congress.
Spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said it was “important” that Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, stepped down from his chairmanship at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September in the wake of his indictment on bribery charges spanning multiple years.
“We think that it’s the right thing to do that he stepped down from his chair,” said Jean-Pierre. “What we believe as far as anything else, whether it’s resigning or anything else that’s related to Sen. Menendez and his role as a senator, obviously, in Congress, that’s something for the Senate leadership to decide.”
Menendez, who has pleaded not guilty to all prior charges, was accused Tuesday of using his position to illegally benefit the Qatari government. The senator is being accused of doing so to help businessman Fred Daibes attain a multi-million dollar investment from an investment firm with ties to Doha.
Investigators found more than $486,000 in cash when they searched Menendez’s home in 2022, “much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe,” in addition to gold bars, according to the indictment that was unsealed last month.
Two of the one-kilogram bars and nine one-ounce gold bars that were recovered bore serial numbers indicating they were once owned by Daibes, according to prosecutors.
Menendez was previously charged following a years-long corruption investigation of illicitly using his office to benefit the Egyptian government, and a trio of New Jersey businessmen, including Daibes.
Nadine Arslanian, his wife and businessmen Daibes, Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, have also pleaded not guilty.
The latest raft of charges marks the second time Menendez has faced a federal criminal indictment on corruption charges.