After surviving a 2017 mistrial and dismissal related to an alleged scheme for bribery, Sen. Robert Menendez (D.N.J.) is now under federal criminal investigation.
According to Semafor, the senior senator from New Jersey, and Democratic chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is being investigated by federal authorities. Semafor reported Wednesday that “two people familiarized with the inquiry” had reported that “prosecutors in New York’s Southern District have contacted Menendez connections in recent weeks” as well as that investigators had “sent at least one subpoena to the case.”
According to sources, the outlet stated that the “broad outline of the new inquiry is similar to the 2017 case”, but “the new investigation involves an entirely new group of people.”
Francisco Pelayo Menendez’s communications manager, said to the Washington Examiner that he had reached out to Michael Soliman, Mercury Public Affairs, to discuss Menendez.
Soliman said that Senator Menendez was aware of an investigation that was covered today. However, he doesn’t know the extent of the investigation. “As always, Senator Menendez is available to assist with any official inquiries that are made,” Soliman told NBC News New York.
In April 2015, the Justice Department announced that it had indicted Mendez in New Jersey and Florida ophthalmologist Salomon MELGEN in connection to a bribery conspiracy. Menendez was accused in accepting gifts from Melgen for favors.
According to the Justice Department, Menendez was accused of accepting nearly $1 million in lavish gifts and campaign contributions from Melgen between January 2006 to January 2013. This was in exchange for his Senate office’s power to influence the outcome to ongoing contractual and Medicare billing disputes that were worth tens to millions of dollars to Melgen. He also supported the visa applications of many of Melgen’s women,” the Justice Department stated at the time.
Menendez said that he was innocent and that he and Melgen were longtime friends.
After an 11-week trial in which the jury was deadlocked, the federal judge who oversees the Menendez case declared mistrial in November 2017.
In January 2018, the Justice Department stated that it would request a new trial. Walls released Menendez from seven of the many charges that were brought against him a few days later. When the Justice Department saw that ruling, they decided to stop trying to retry Menendez and dismissed the indictment in January 2018.
In April 2018, Menendez was slammed by the Senate Ethics Committee in a bipartisan report.
The committee stated that “The Committee found that you accepted gifts of significant worth from Dr. Melgen over a period of six years without seeking Committee approval and that you failed publicly to disclose certain gifts as required under Senate Rule and federal law.” You also used your position in the Senate to further Dr. Melgen’s business and personal interests while accepting these gifts.”
“This conduct violated Senate Rules, federal laws, and applicable standards for conduct,” stated the Senate Ethics Committee.
According to the Justice Department, Melgen was also convicted of 67 counts related to “his participation in a scheme to commit health care fraud involving the filing false claims and the inclusion false entries in patients’ medical charts.” In February 2018, a jury sentenced Melgen to 17 years imprisonment.
Former President Donald Trump’s final act was to commute Melgen’s sentence, just hours before President Joe Biden was inaugurated.