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Bob Menendez boasts he’s still briefed on nation’s secrets despite ‘foreign agent’ charge 


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It’s business as usual for Senator Robert Menendez, who boasted to a talk-show host that he is still attending top secret briefings — despite being charged with working as a foreign agent for Egypt.

The embattled New Jersey Democrat who was indicted on federal corruption charges in September told New Jersey PBS’s Chatbox with David Cruz show “I still have all my intelligence credentials” and that he still attends regular briefings of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I was not barred from going into an intelligence briefing,” he said when Cruz asked if he had been sidelined after his most recent indictment last month. “I still have all my intelligence credentials.”

Menendez also said that he had attended a classified Senate briefing on the war in Ukraine on Wednesday after a CNN reporter repeatedly questioned him about why he was heading to a classified briefing if he had been accused of working for a foreign government.

“Bottom line is, I’m a United States senator, I have my security credentials, and an accusation is just that. It’s not proof of anything,” he told CNN.

He is now facing a bid by fellow Democratic senator, John Fetterman (Pa.) to be stripped of access to secrets.

Fetterman introduced a resolution Thursday which would ban any senator charged with a breach of national security automatically from access to classified briefings, and removed them from all committees.

The resolution would also ban such a senator using public funds for foreign travel, NBC News reported. It does not name the indicted Democrat but would apply only to him.

Menendez, 69, was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until he was forced under Democratic Senate rules to step down as chair in September after being charged with felonies including taking gold bars and cash in return for abusing his powers as senator. He denies the charges.

But he was not removed from the committee by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

On Thursday he was seen in the Capitol headed to a reception held by the committee for leaders attending a White House summit on President Biden’s “Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity,” with the presidents of Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republican among the guests.

But he was not removed from the committee by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

In October, charges were added by federal prosecutors in Manhattan that Menendez had acted as an agent of the Egyptian government in return for bribes, which he also denies.

The indicted Democrat is able to get access to the nation’s secrets because all members of Congress have automatic security clearances.

With respect to Israel, Menendez told Chatbox that he is an important member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because of his decades of involvement in the Middle East.

“The reality is that for someone who has done foreign policy for 31 years and who knows intimately the US-Israel relationship and the challenges that Israel faces, and particularly in the horrific actions of Hamas, I didn’t need to go to an intelligence briefing to tell me what we need to do to stand by Israel,” Menendez said.

Along with Menendez, his wife Nadine Arslanian and three others have been charged with four counts of bribery and acting as unregistered foreign agents for Egypt.

Prosecutors said that authorities found nearly $500,000 in cash at his home in Englewood Cliffs as well as gold bars, according to the federal indictment.

In his Chatbox interview, Menendez said that he had records of withdrawing $400 in cash every week from his credit union for 30 years and keeping the cash at his home.

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