Accusations against US Senator Bob Menendez of accepting bribes in exchange for exercising his influence to support the Egyptian government have sparked calls in Congress for President Joe Biden’s administration to reconsider $235 million in military aid to Cairo.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, Chairman of the Middle East Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed his hope that the committee would investigate these allegations and Egypt’s involvement.
US prosecutors announced an indictment on Friday that includes Menendez accepting gold bullion and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for exercising his influence to help the Egyptian government.
“I hope that our committee will consider using whatever ability it has to stop those dollars (aid money), pending an investigation into what Egypt is doing,” Murphy told reporters.
He added, “I haven’t spoken to my colleagues about this matter yet, but it is clear that this raises serious questions about Egypt and its behavior”.
The indictment against Menendez also says that he had close relations with members of the Egyptian intelligence services and held meetings to discuss US military aid.
Menendez has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
He temporarily resigned from his position as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Democratic rules in the Senate require a member accused of a felony to relinquish any leadership position.
The Biden administration decided this month to allow a significant portion of military aid to Egypt to continue, saying Cairo was vital to national security interests despite what critics said were human rights violations.
Murphy was among the lawmakers who criticized the decision.
Representative Don Beyer, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives and co-founder of the Egypt Human Rights Caucus in Congress, said that Egypt is conducting a spying operation inside the US Senate and Washington must respond.
“I think this requires a much stronger response from the Biden administration, and the direct response is to withhold military funds,” he told CNN.