According to a report published on Friday, the United States Department of Justice is contemplating the possibility of initiating criminal charges against a prominent senator affiliated with the Democratic Party.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently considering several charge options in relation to Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) following an extensive investigation.
“Prosecutors are expected to meet with his lawyers in the coming weeks ahead of a final decision,” according to undisclosed sources, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The publication added:
New Jersey’s senior U.S. senator, a Democrat who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez has been under scrutiny by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. The probe in part has examined whether he or his wife, Nadine Arslanian, received gifts in exchange for political favors, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.
Prosecutors also have investigated the circumstances surrounding a lucrative contract that a New Jersey businessman secured with Egyptian officials for certifying halal meat exports, the Journal has reported. The businessman, whom Menendez hosted in his office along with Egyptian officials in 2018, became the sole certifier of halal meat exported from the U.S. to Egypt the following year.
Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York “have contacted people connected to Menendez in recent weeks,” according to two sources familiar with the inquiry, who also claimed that “they have sent at least one subpoena in the case.”
Senator Menendez is aware of an investigation that was reported on today, but he is unsure of its breadth, according to Menendez’s office spokesperson Michael Soliman, who talked to the publication. As always, the Senator is available to help in any way that is required of him or his office should any official enquiries be made.
The news source proceeded to provide information regarding the initial federal investigation of Menendez that took place during the Obama administration:
Menendez and a Florida eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, were indicted in 2015 for an alleged arrangement under which the doctor provided flights on a private jet and lavish vacations in exchange for the senator’s help with government contracts and other public favors. Menendez’s lawyers argued that the two men were simply good friends. The inquiry ended in a mistrial in 2017 after the jury failed to reach a verdict. (Melgen was convicted in 2017 of medicare fraud, and received clemency from President Donald Trump in 2021.)
The two people familiar with the investigation, one who is directly connected to the investigation and the other a New Jersey lawyer who has been told of the case, said that the broad outlines of the new inquiry are similar to the 2017 case. Both said that the new investigation involves an entirely different group of people, however.
The situation was analyzed by Kadia Goba, a correspondent for Semafor, who provided her perspective on the matter.
“Federal prosecutors rarely lose at trial, so it’s notable to see the Department of Justice return to Menendez after its humiliating public failure to convict him,” the author said. Public corruption trials also face unique challenges in light of a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that overturned Bob McDonnell’s conviction and mandated that prosecutors produce clear proof linking gifts or donations to public actions.
“But there are also internal Justice Department divisions at play,” she added. “In 2015, charges against Menendez were brought by the Public Integrity Section in Washington after a U.S. Attorney in New Jersey handed the case off. The Southern District of New York traditionally operates independently and bears none of the responsibility for the 2018 failure.”
The Daily Caller added that Menendez, who was originally elected in 2006, currently serves as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s chairman. According to WSJ, a different corruption investigation that prosecutors launched in 2015 ended in a mistrial. The senator is available to provide any help that is required of him or his office, as always, should any official inquiries be made, a spokeswoman said in response to WSJ’s request for comment.
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