Menendez bribery trial: Senate staffer on stand for 2nd day of testimony

Sarah Arkin told jurors that Sen. Menendez asked her to be “less publicly critical,” when writing a press release about Epytian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Chris Keating

Jun 25, 2024, 4:48 PM

Updated 24 days ago


Federal prosecutors are getting very close to wrapping up their case against Sen. Bob Menendez. Jurors reported back to the courtroom Tuesday morning for the federal bribery case in what is now week seven of the trial.
Sarah Arkin, a staffer with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was back on the stand for a second day of questioning. She worked closely with Menendez for seven years. She claims to have witnessed a change in the senator regarding how he felt about the Egyptian president and his human rights record.
Federal prosecutors are using Arkin to try and prove that the senator’s stance changed because he was receiving bribes of cash and gold at the time. Prosecutors referenced a meeting held in March 2018 in Washington that involved, not only an Egyptian defense official but also Nadine Menendez – the senator’s wife - and defendant Wael Hana.
After that meeting, as well as in 2019, Arkin told jurors that Menendez asked her to be “less publicly critical,” when writing a press release about Epytian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. At a later date, Menendez would also tell her she wasn’t invited on a trip to Egypt.
The prosecution is trying to link that meeting with the allegation that Menendez helped Egypt get millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.
The prosecution claims defendant Wael Hana, the owner of ISEG Halal in Edgewater and close friend of the Menendez family, also benefited as the company became the sole certifier of Halal meat into Egypt.
On cross-examination, the defense characterized Menendez's change in tone toward Egypt as a” strategy of quiet engagement.”
Concerning the alleged military aid for bribes, the defense noted Egypt is second only behind Israel when it comes to getting U.S. military aid, also noting that Egypt is essential to fighting terrorism so it only makes sense for Egypt to gain U.S. weapons. The defense even showed jurors a press release Arkin helped write in 2020 to prove Menendez was still tough on the Egyptian president in which Menendez said, “In Egypt, President Sisi has attempted to quash dissent and consolidate control by wrongfully, imprisoning human rights defenders.”
Before the day ended, the prosecution started questioning an investigator with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Joe Catania stated he has degrees in aeronautics, banking and economics and is also a specialist in money laundering and fraud.
Catania was asked to look at the money confiscated by the FBI from the Menendez home in Englewood Cliffs.
The prosecution is expected to rest its case this week. The defense attorneys for Menendez, Wael Hana, and Fred Daibes will then take over.

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