On March 5th, the Department of Justice indicted Senator Bob Menendez for the fourth time in under six months on charges stemming from its long-running investigation into his alleged corruption schemes. The latest indictment adds 15 counts against Menendez, including a bombshell new allegation: that he acted as an agent of the Egyptian government during his tenure in the Senate, including while he served as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is the first time in modern history that a sitting member of Congress has been charged with operating as a foreign agent in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 law Congress passed to counter the threat of Nazism in America.

It should be clear to his colleagues in the Senate and to the American people why this is so stunning: it is impossible to serve both a foreign government and the people whose interests you are supposed to represent. 

The scope of Menendez’s alleged betrayal is staggering. 

According to the indictment, Senator Menendez allegedly worked as a foreign agent from 2018 through 2022, during which time he served as either the Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Those positions allowed Senator Menendez unparalleled influence over the government’s allocation of resources to foreign governments, including the ability to fast track, stall or even prevent the allocation of military and other foreign aid around the world. 

And that’s precisely what the government alleges Senator Menendez did. At various points, Senator Menendez allegedly used his authority on the Committee to “facilitate” military sales and financing to the Egyptian government. At one point, the government alleges that Senator Menendez conveyed a message to a representative of the Egyptian government through his wife and Egyptian-American businessman Wael Hana about his intent to sign off on a $99 million sale of 46,000 target practice rounds and 10,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Egypt. When the Egyptian official finally received word of Sen. Menendez’s intent, they replied with a thumbs up emoji. 

“Much like former Representative George Santos, Senator Menendez’s continued service is a stain on our government that will undermine our institutions until he is removed. ”

Of course, the threat posed by having an alleged foreign agent serving in such a sensitive national security position extends beyond monetary concerns. These high-ranking roles also granted Senator Menendez the authority to access extremely sensitive foreign policy and national security information. In one particularly galling instance, Senator Menendez allegedly used his access to obtain sensitive, non-public information about the makeup of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, and then allegedly passed that information on to the Egyptian government through his wife Nadine. 

Information about the personnel makeup of an embassy, if in the wrong hands, could threaten the safety and security of government officials. And allegedly making crucial foreign policy decisions, such as helping lift a ban on selling small arms and ammunition to Egypt despite serious concerns about the country’s human rights record and treatment of an injured American citizen, in exchange for money and other gifts rather than as a considered policy determination could prove catastrophic for the country’s interests in the region. It is hard to overstate how serious a betrayal it is for a sitting senator to share that type of sensitive information with a foreign government, and allegedly make critical foreign policy decisions based on personal gain.

But perhaps the most important betrayal was his violation of the oath he took to the Constitution and to the people of New Jersey. 

Before taking their seat in Congress, new members swear an oath to the Constitution and the country whose laws and policies they will help shape. Specifically, senators swear to “support and defend the Constitution… [and] bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” It is hard to conceive of a way to break that oath more powerfully than by serving the interests of another government while ostensibly being entrusted to serve  your own. 

And at the most basic level, Senator Menendez betrayed the citizens of New Jersey, the people who elected him to represent their interests in the federal government. His duty, first and foremost, is to them. Yet for years, they allegedly had to share Senator Menendez, one of their only two senators, with the government of Egypt. And with Senator Menendez obstinately denying calls for his resignation, people across New Jersey are being forced to question whether the decisions their senator is making on serious federal matters such as deploying troops, allocating federal funds or on treaty obligations, will be to their benefit, or to the government of Egypt.

While these latest allegations remain unproven, Senator Menendez’s continued presence in our halls of power is unacceptable. And though he must be granted the presumption of innocence in his criminal trial, the question of his continued congressional service is not criminal—it’s moral. Much like former Representative George Santos, Senator Menendez’s continued service is a stain on our government that will undermine our institutions until he is removed. 

Senator Menendez abused the trust of his constituents and our country when he chose to act on behalf of another country. He must be expelled from the Senate.