Senator Robert Menendez is not only a career politician but also a career criminal.
Menendez’ defiance is not a surprise. He is incorrigible. He is a survivor. He can stand up in front of the media and claim that he has keeps hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in his closet for “emergencies.” Why shouldn’t he? His implausible explanations in the past have been underreported or downplayed by the media.
Federal investigations of Menendez have been going on for more than 10 years. In the past, he has escaped allegations at least as serious as those in the indictment unveiled on Friday. Indeed, his efforts to interfere with criminal investigations of his benefactors have a familiar ring.
In 2012, Menendez tried to thwart investigations of Dr. Salomon Melgen, his biggest campaign donor and eventual co-defendant, even enlisting Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Melgen would later be convicted of Medicare fraud and sentenced to 17 years in prison, a sentence that was commuted by President Trump in 2021 on one of his last days in office.
According to the indictment, the bribery scheme began not long after Menendez was tried in 2017 for accepting bribes. That trial resulted in a hung jury. The Justice Department chose not to retry him, apparently leading him to believe that he is untouchable.