WaPo: Federal grand jury has opened probe of Menendez

posted at 8:01 am on March 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Looks like that pushback on the prostitution angle of the Robert Menendez scandal didn’t cut him any slack with federal prosecutors.  The Washington Post reported early this morning that a federal grand jury in Miami has begun a probe of the new chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, putting the Democrat in a tough spot at the beginning of his tenure:

A federal grand jury in Miami is investigating Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), examining his role in advocating for the business interests of a wealthy donor and friend, according to three people aware of the probe.

Menendez has intervened in matters affecting the financial interests of Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, seeking to apply pressure on the Dominican government to honor a contract with Melgen’s port-security company, documents and interviews show. Also, Menendez’s office has acknowledged he interceded with federal health-care officials after they said that Melgen had overbilled the U.S. government for care at his clinic. …

Last month, people with knowledge of the case said FBI agents were conducting interviews in the Dominican Republic and the United States concerning allegations against Menendez, including the role he played in advocating for the enforcement of the port-security contract. A grand jury probe, which involves a prosecutor pursuing allegations with an eye toward possible indictment, typically represents a legal escalation, though it does not always lead to a prosecution.

As part of the grand jury investigation, the three people said, federal agents have questioned witnesses about the interactions between Menendez and Melgen, who contributed $700,000 last year to Menendez and other Senate Democrats. The grand jury has also issued subpoenas for Melgen’s business and financial records, according to two people briefed on the probe who, like the others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an on­going investigation.

Menendez told the Post, “I welcome any review,” but let’s be serious. The “review” first took the form of a federal investigation, which no one welcomes.  If investigators take the evidence to a federal grand jury, they’re not looking for a clarification or to produce an independent exoneration.  Law enforcement can end investigations on their own if they don’t find any reasons to continue them.  The fact that they have gone to a grand jury — and after only a month of investigating Menendez — says that this is not just a review, but a plan to get an indictment.

Al Hunt, writing from the left at Bloomberg, warned even before the grand jury involvement that Democrats shouldn’t let Menendez take the Foreign Relations Committee down with him:

Senate Democrats have a problem called Robert Menendez. It may mean the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which the lawmaker heads, will be unable to play an important and much-needed role of overseer.  …

Foreign Relations seems destined for a return to the days of ineffective chairmen such as Claiborne Pell, a Democrat, or polarizing ones such as Jesse Helms, a Republican, even though the current senior minority member, Bob Corker of Tennessee, is willing to work with Democrats.

That’s unfortunate. Although no administration believes it, it’s healthy when Congress keeps its feet to the fire, not with cheap shots — as with the Benghazi imbroglio — but in a serious fashion, by broadening the discussion about major geopolitical concerns, certainly war and peace.

Instead, the recent warnings of former Senator Jim Webb in National Interest magazine probably will resonate: “On the issues of who should decide when and where to use force and for how long, and what our country’s long-term relations should consist of in the aftermath, Congress is mostly tolerated and frequently ignored.”

The question will be whether Senate Democrats care to participate in effective oversight of the Obama administration in any context.  So far Harry Reid has done nothing to suggest that he’s interested in that role, and the longer that Menendez runs Foreign Relations, the clearer that becomes.


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Nothing to see here so lets move along. Yeah right!

crazywater on March 15, 2013 at 8:05 AM

Senator Baby Bob must have some enemies in DC.

PappyD61 on March 15, 2013 at 8:08 AM

The issue will be whether frequenting pre teen foreign hookers warrants a higher level position that Senate foriegn relations.

acyl72 on March 15, 2013 at 8:11 AM

I’ve said from the beginning that the whores, underaged or otherwise is a red herring. This is all about the relationship between Menendez and Melgen.

Happy Nomad on March 15, 2013 at 8:15 AM

…allegations against Menendez, including the role he played in advocating for the enforcement of the port-security contract.

My understanding is that he helped get the contract for his pal in exchange for the girls and the cash. “Enforcement” of the contract sounds more like somebody entered into a contract and needed to be forced to honor it. How’s that fit into the story?

forest on March 15, 2013 at 8:20 AM

Nancy Pelosi to Swamp 10 for draining, Nancy, Swamp 10 for a draining.

Bishop on March 15, 2013 at 8:29 AM

OT: I woke up this morning to open my Cincinnati Enquirer to learn that Ohio’s GOP senator, Rob Portman, is announcing his support for same-sex marriage today in a column in the Columbus Dispatch. Evidently, his son, a junior (I gather) at Yale, told Portman and his wife two years ago, and he’s been wrestling with it ever since.
From what the Enquirer said, he’ll support SSM, though he won’t be out campaigning for it. Though he voted for DOMA is 1996 as a member of the House, he’d now vote to repeal it. That said, he said it’s a state issue, whatever that means.

Anyway, I guess we thank public education and popular culture for transferring absolute moral authority to homosexuals.

BuckeyeSam on March 15, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Nothing will happen. He’s a member of the DC royalty. Worst case, he’ll have to pay money to someone, and will get the money from his campaign fund, which was filled by those wanting (and receiving) favors.

Wino on March 15, 2013 at 8:35 AM

I swear so was older then 13.

trs on March 15, 2013 at 8:36 AM

BuckeyeSam on March 15, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Evidently Portman is now a representative of one, his son.

Bishop on March 15, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Not to worry.

I hear sleazy Eric Holder has wheeled out the trusty old Reno 2000 evidence shredder.

viking01 on March 15, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Bloomberg:

Although no administration believes it, it’s healthy when Congress keeps its feet to the fire, not with cheap shots — as with the Benghazi imbroglio — but in a serious fashion, by broadening the discussion about major geopolitical concerns, certainly war and peace.

Right, because everyone knows that any scrutiny and outrage over an Obama administration which hides and withholds access to witnesses and timelines in an incident resulting in the murder of US Navy Seals, and the first murder of a US ambassador since the Carter administration, is a ‘non-serious, cheap shot’ on the Obama administration by congressional republicans.

Do these buffoons even bother to read how stupid their assertions sound on paper, before they print them?

Cavalry on March 15, 2013 at 8:52 AM

The man did nothing that their convention and their fouled souls didn’t celebrate. What’s the real difference between his sullying the office or Bill Clinton’s sullying the office? I suspect CNN or MSNBC will hire him as a spokesperson for the martyred souls persecuted by the GOP.

Don L on March 15, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Interesting. Democrats head the executive branch of the federal government. And they control the Senate. So why would they go after one of their own? Influence peddling is not exactly a rare creature in DC. And Senators have survived prostitution scandals, even when illegal (Sen. Vitter) before, so there has to be something much nastier going on here.

rbj on March 15, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Cleombrotus on March 15, 2013 at 10:09 AM

At the top of the hour, C-BS Radio “News” actually mentioned Menendez’ Democrat Party affiliation. Nearly choked on my haggis.

Del Dolemonte on March 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM

…Democrat…DOJ…nothing will come of it.

KOOLAID2 on March 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM

At the top of the hour, C-BS Radio “News” actually mentioned Menendez’ Democrat Party affiliation. Nearly choked on my haggis.

Del Dolemonte on March 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM

…for the first time ever…I don’t believe you!…I have to hear it myself!

KOOLAID2 on March 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Haggis for breakfast is just so wrong.

a capella on March 15, 2013 at 12:05 PM

What kind’a probe is that gonna be? A jailhouse cavity check?

RalphyBoy on March 15, 2013 at 2:42 PM