Sen. Bob Menendez won’t say if he’ll run again as he pleads not guilty to new bribery charges: ‘Wouldn’t be announcing in courtroom’

Embattled New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez sidestepped questions Monday about whether he’ll run again in November — while pleading not guilty to fresh charges that he lied to investigators and did illegal favors for the Qatari government.

“Well, I wouldn’t be announcing it in a courtroom,” quipped the Democrat, 70, after he was asked to confirm — as The Post exclusively reported last week — that he’d be bowing out of the race to represent his Garden State district for another term.

Menendez then flashed a half smile as he stepped into an elevator at the Manhattan federal courthouse where he, his wife Nadine, 56, and New Jersey businessmen Fred Daibes and Wael Hana appeared for a brief hearing after being hit with another expanded bribery indictment.

Bob and Nadine Menendez are charged together with orchestrating the alleged bribery scheme. SARAH YENESEL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Bob and Nadine Menendez are charged together with orchestrating the alleged bribery scheme. SARAH YENESEL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“Once again, not guilty, your honor,” said the senator, wearing a checkered blue suit and standing next to his wife and his lawyers, when he was asked to enter a plea to the new charges.

Menendez now faces 16 charges stemming from what prosecutors have called a “corrupt relationship” in which Bob and Nadine were bribed with gold bars, more than $500,000 in cash and a Mercedes-Benz convertible in exchange for favors that benefitted the local businessmen, the Egyptian government and Qatar.

The senator leveraged his powerful post as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to essentially act as a quasi-spy for Egypt — passing on sensitive information and steering thousands in foreign aid to the country — and pressured the US Department of Agriculture to protect Hana’s undeserved exclusive contract to export halal meat to Egypt, court papers allege.

The FBI recovered more than $100,000 worth of gold bars, plus the “fruits” of other alleged bribes, in Menendez’s New Jersey home during a June 2022 raid, court papers allege. AP
The FBI recovered more than $100,000 worth of gold bars, plus the “fruits” of other alleged bribes, in Menendez’s New Jersey home during a June 2022 raid, court papers allege. AP

Hana’s company received the cushy halal monopoly despite the businessman having no prior experience with halal certification, the feds said.

Daibes, a real estate developer accused by a New Jersey oversight commission of having ties to the Genovese crime family, also sent Menendez bribes, including gold bars and cash, for help disrupting an ongoing federal probe, the indictment alleges.

“Thank you. Christmas in January,” Nadine Menendez texted on Jan. 24, 2022 to Daibes – whose driver’s fingerprints were later found on an envelope stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash and discovered inside the Menendez home, court papers charge.

Five days later, the senator Googled “kilo of gold price,” the indictment states.

Daibes later pleaded guilty to bank fraud in a separate case in New Jersey federal court that had called for him to serve no jail time.

But a New Jersey judge rejected that plea deal in October without giving a reason.

Menendez has argued that the feds are trying to convict him “in the court of public opinion” before the case gets to trial. Getty Images
Menendez has argued that the feds are trying to convict him “in the court of public opinion” before the case gets to trial. Getty Images

Menendez has stepped down from his Foreign Relations Committee post but has refused to resign from the Senate.

He declared his innocence in a dramatic speech on the Senate floor in January, arguing that the feds are trying to “convict me in the court of public opinion” before the trial — currently set for May — even begins.

Menendez, set to go on trial in May, did not comment on whether he’d be running for re-election. Gregory P. Mango
Menendez, set to go on trial in May, did not comment on whether he’d be running for re-election. Gregory P. Mango

“They seek a victory, not justice. It’s an unfortunate reality but prosecutors sometimes shoot first before they even know all the facts,” he told his colleagues in the upper chamber.

Menendez, his wife, Hana and Daibes all pleaded not guilty on Monday.

A fifth defendant, Jose Uribe, copped a plea earlier this month and has pledged to “cooperate fully” with investigators.