US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has gotten himself indicted again for stupefying corruption:
The three-count federal indictment depicts a brazen plan hatched during furtive dinners, in text messages and on encrypted calls — much of it aimed at increasing U.S. assistance to Egypt and aiding businessmen in New Jersey.
Mr. Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, is accused of acting as a go-between, passing messages to an American-Egyptian businessman, Wael Hana, who maintained close connections with Egyptian military and intelligence officials, the indictment said. In one text, to an Egyptian general, Mr. Hana referred to the senator, who held sway over military sales, financing and other aid, as “our man.”
Friday’s charges describe an intermingling of the bare-knuckle, back-room dealings of Mr. Menendez’s home state of New Jersey and delicate matters of security in the Middle East. They represent the latest episode in a decades-long political career that took Mr. Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, from the Union City, N.J., school board to the halls of the Senate, a career marked by accusations of corruption and an earlier federal indictment that ended in a hung jury.
Dan Friedman marvels at the indictment:
Prosecutors say the New Jersey Democrat and his wife took hundreds of thousands of dollars via gold bars, mortgage payments, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, and cash that investigators found hidden in envelopes inside jackets bearing the senator’s name.
But what’s particularly striking about this indictment—besides the sheer brazenness of the alleged bribery—is that this is the second time Menendez has faced corruption charges in less than a decade. In 2015, he was charged with using his office to do favors for a Florida eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, who lavished Menendez with luxury items and free travel. Menendez, who claimed he and Melgen were simply friends who exchanged gifts, avoided conviction after a hung jury caused a mistrial in 2017. Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud in 2017, but President Donald Trump commuted his 17 year prison sentence.
In 2018, the Senate Ethics Committee admonished Menendez, noting that despite the mistrial, Menendez had admitted to taking official actions to help Melgen while accepting gifts from him that the senator failed to disclose “as required by Senate Rules and federal law.” The committee said that Menendez’s actions “reflected discredit upon the Senate.”
The new charges suggest that the unusually sharp condemnation from his colleagues did not cause Menendez to cease ethically questionable, if not illegal, conduct. And Senate Democrats did nothing to stop him. Menendez’s 2018 reelection to a third Senate term, and an agreement by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats to allow Menendez to return to a top spot on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—he became chairman when his party took control of the chamber in 2021—gave Menendez the power that the Justice Department now alleges he used corruptly.
I lived in New Jersey years ago—in fact, just after I started The Daily Parker—so I get that the state has a rep to uphold. But wow, the man needs to resign right now. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is also a Democrat, so should Menendez unexpectedly do the right thing, Murphy would appoint a new senator immediately. (As long as Murphy doesn't start marveling at "this thing [that's] fucking golden," we should be all right.)