The U.S. Department of Justice is weighing potential charges against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., following a yearslong federal criminal probe into his dealings with foreign regulators, according to a new report.
Detailed by people familiar with the matter, prosecutors are likely to meet with the senator’s lawyers in the coming weeks ahead of a final decision, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Menendez, who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position he held from 2013 to 2015 and again has been in since 2021, has been under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
The probe, which involves several federal organizations, investigated lavish gifts Menendez’s wife, Nadine Arslanian, allegedly received from a New Jersey food producer that obtained an exclusive contract with the Egyptian government to certify halal food exports across the globe.
Egyptian officials and the New Jersey businessman who secured the contract were hosted by Menendez in his office in 2018, according to the Journal. A year later, the businessman became the ‘sole certifier of halal meat exported from the U.S. to Egypt,’ the outlet noted.
‘Details about any potential criminal charges couldn’t be learned. It also couldn’t be determined whether other individuals under scrutiny, including Arslanian, are in jeopardy of being prosecuted,’ the outlet added.
The inquiry considered whether Menendez may have improperly used his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to influence the deal. The committee controls roughly $2 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt, according to an NBC report earlier this year.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Jennifer Morrill, a spokeswoman for the senator, said, ‘As stated previously, the senator remains confident this matter will be successfully resolved.’
Federal investigators opened the probe into Menendez last October and gave no indication of how long it was expected to continue.
The Journal noted that the current probe dates back to at least 2019, when the New Jersey home of Wael Hana, an associate of Menendez’s wife who worked to establish the halal business that won the contract with Egypt, was searched by federal investigators.
‘Any allegations about cars, apartments, cash, and jewelry being provided by anyone associated with ISEG Halal to Senator Menendez or his wife at all, let alone in exchange for any kind of favorable treatment, are totally without basis,’ a spokeswoman for Hana said in a previous statement.
During an April appearance on CNN, Menendez insisted the investigation wouldn’t amount to anything.
‘If anyone looks at my history on Egypt, they would know that by both denying aid to Egypt, denying arms sales to Egypt, criticizing its human-rights record, I am not in a position to be helpful to anyone as it relates to Egypt,’ he said in relation to the contract between the two parties.
In April, Menendez established a legal defense fund to help pay for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees relating to the federal criminal probe.
If charged, Menendez, a former member of the House who has served in the Senate since 2006, could continue to serve in the upper chamber. He is up for re-election in 2024.
Menendez was previously indicted on federal bribery charges in 2016. That case related to a wealthy Florida eye doctor and longtime friend who gave generous donations to Menedez and allegedly received benefits in return.
The Department of Justice dropped those charges in 2018, however, and the new probe was unrelated to that case.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.