Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is under federal criminal investigation … again. The voters of New Jersey reelected Menendez despite his accepting lavish gifts from a businessman who was later convicted of fraud. Menendez was also charged but the case was dismissed after a jury hung on the verdict. As I noted at the time of the trial, Menendez was a “juror” in a trial that I handled in the Senate and he maintained a position completely at odds with his own later defense.
In the prior case against the Senator, prosecutors accused Menendez of accepting close to $1 million in contributions and lavish gifts in exchange for political favors. The trial ended with a hung jury and the charges were dismissed in 2018.
That history did not prevent the Democrats making Menendez the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
ABC and other outlets have confirmed the new investigation. Reports indicated that the investigation raised similar allegations to the 2018 case.
In 2018, I noted that the most poignant and powerful case against Menendez was made in his own words.
It was 2010, and Menendez was voting against my client federal Judge Thomas Porteous in Porteous’s impeachment trial.
The charges were laid out plainly before U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.):
“… engag[ing] in a corrupt relationship [and] as part of this corrupt relationship … solicit[ation] and accept[ance] of numerous things of value, including meals, trips, home repairs, and car repairs, for his personal use and benefit while at the same time taking official actions that benefitted [his friend].”
Menendez was resolute. He stood up in front of his colleagues and declared that receiving gifts ranging from free meals to wedding gifts was, plain and simple, corruption.
Notably, while many of his colleagues voted “not guilty” on Dec. 8, 2010, to Count Two (which focused on the gifts and travel benefits) against Judge Porteous, Menendez did not. He voted “guilty” on that and all of the other counts.
Menendez ultimately escaped conviction based on the very arguments that he rejected when another man stood accused in the well of the U.S. Senate. In his own trial, he called a couple dozen witnesses, including Cory Booker, New Jersey’s junior Democratic U.S. senator, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who spoke to his good character.
The one witness who did not appear was Menendez himself.