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2023 in political scandals: A Senate sex tape and indictments galore

From the slew of criminal charges against former President Donald Trump and Hunter Biden to an explosive Senate sex tape, 2023 was not short of political drama as the presidential race ramped up ahead of an election year.

Here is a look back at the political scandals that rocked the country in 2023:

A leaked sex tape showing a congressional staffer having sex with another man in a Senate hearing room rocked Capitol Hill in the days leading up to Christmas.

The situation unfolded on Dec. 15, when the Daily Caller published the video with the blurred-out faces of two men engaging in sex in Hart Senate Office Building room 216, a location where several high-profile hearings have taken place in recent years, including Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

SENATE HEARING ROOM SEX TAPE CONTROVERSY EXPLAINED

Posts on social media claimed the alleged staffer worked for the office of Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Less than a day after the story broke, Cardin’s office announced that a legislative aide had been dismissed but did not address reports linking a member of his staff to the sex tape. 

“I was angry. I was disappointed,” Cardin told Fox News on Dec. 18 when speaking about the scandal. “It’s a breach of trust.” 

Trump, Hunter Biden, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and now-former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., have all faced their own indictments this year.

Trump was indicted in four separate cases, two on federal charges and two on state charges in New York and Georgia, and he has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. 

Hunter Biden was also indicted this month in California on nine tax charges – three felonies and six misdemeanors – over $1.4 million in taxes he allegedly owed between 2016 and 2019. He previously pleaded not guilty in October to federal gun charges in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in connection with Special Counsel David Weiss’ years-long investigation.

Menendez, along with his wife Nadine and three New Jersey businessmen, were also charged in a federal bribery scheme on Sept. 23.

Menendez allegedly acted as an agent for the Egyptian government during his time as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Menendez stepped down from the post when the first indictment was unsealed on Sept. 23, but he remains on the committee and has refused to resign from the Senate. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Congress expelled Santos in a House floor vote on Dec. 1 after he was indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, falsification of records, credit card fraud, and other charges.

He is accused of using campaign funds on a number of luxury goods and treatments such as Botox, pleading not guilty to all charges.

Since the Oct. 7 massacre carried out by Hamas terrorists in Israel, Jewish students nationwide have experienced a surge in incidents like vandalism, arson and harassment.

During a congressional hearing on antisemitism on Dec. 5, the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Pennsylvania refused to say whether calls for genocide violated university rules of conduct. 

Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania leaders walked back their statements after widespread public outrage from the political right and left. UPenn President Liz Magill and Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok resigned amid the backlash.

Democrat Sen. Jacky Rosen sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Dec. 13, urging him to take a “comprehensive review” of university harassment policies amid rising antisemitism on college campuses and what she called a “failure” of leadership at those institutions to protect Jewish students.

Republicans have also proposed legislation to defund public universities that do not condemn antisemitism on campus in the wake of Hamas’ attacks.

The Wall Street Journal recently warned that antisemitism exposed on college campuses across the country is just one sign of the “deeper rot” caused by anti-American and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion “DEI” policies at these universities.

Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller, Chad Pergram, Adam Sabes, Chris Pandolfo, Kristine Parks, Brooke Singman, Liz Elkind and Jamie Joseph contributed to this report. 

   

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