Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has had an ugly cloud of corruption over his entire career.
Prior to the most recent charges made against Menendez, he was brought up on conspiracy, bribery, and fraud charges in 2015.
Now facing another federal corruption indictment, House Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) is calling for Menendez to resign.
On Friday, Mendez was indicted, again, on charges that included conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.
He was allegedly secretly helping the government of Egypt for payments of cash and gold bars that were made by local New Jersey businessmen.
According to a New York Times report, this influence was primarily to impact arms sales and U.S. aid to Egypt. He was also influencing the business of one of his many alleged mistresses, a move that hurt U.S. meat suppliers.
Senator Menendez is also alleged to have influenced an investigation into a friend of a longtime Menendez fundraiser, influencing the NJ AG office to decide the case in favor of the defendant.
Three New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes, have also been indicted, as has Menendez's wife, Nadine Menendez.
Menendez has been defiant, already talking of running for re-election, which is ironic, considering the comments that he has made about Donald Trump.
He has, however, stepped down from his position as the Chair of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez is no stranger to bribery charges.
In April 2015, he was indicted with Salomon Melgen on charges that he had accepted gifts from Melgen in exchange for political influence.
At the time, Assistant Attorney General Caldwell stated:
"Government corruption – at any level of elected office – corrodes the public trust and weakens our democratic system. It is the fundamental responsibility of the Department of Justice to hold public officials accountable by conducting thorough investigations and seeking an indictment when the facts and the law support it.
Special Agent in Charge Frankel added, "The job of an elected official is to serve the people. The citizens of New Jersey have the right to demand honest, unbiased service and representation from their elected officials at all levels of government. The charges and activity alleged in this indictment are another example of the FBI's commitment to aggressively and tenaciously pursue public corruption in the state of New Jersey."
Menendez somehow beat those charges even though the evidence was stacked against him.
I should note that the attorney for Menendez in the case was Abbe Lowell, who is currently defending Hunter Biden.
McCarthy has joined a chorus of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle that are now demanding Menendez resign his seat, which included Democrat New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Senator John Fetterman (D-PA).
"From what I read it's very damaging.
"I mean, to have gold bars with the ID number that was from the developer, cash with the fingerprints of the driver, you're wrapping it up in your clothes — most people put money in the bank. Googling how much a gold bar is worth — was that trying to figure out how much he gave him?"
When McCarthy was then asked if Menendez should step down, he replied, "Yeah," adding, "In that case, it seemed pretty black or white."
Having grown up in that area and having lived in New Jersey for more than a decade, I am very familiar with Senator Menendez and the corruption rumors that have surrounded him his entire career.
The problem was that the rumors always died down, and in the case of the 2015 scandal, he was acquitted on charges that I thought were an open-and-shut case.
In fact, a judge dismissed almost half the charges against Menendez before he ever went to trial.
There is a reason these corrupt officials get off on charges such as these, and it is often because the people charged with convicting them are just as corrupt, as I believe was the case in the previous corruption scandal.
This case seems even tighter against Menendez, who obviously became emboldened when the first case was beaten.
Don't expect anything but defiance from Menendez because the man thinks he is invincible.
And I would not be surprised for a second if he does run for re-election (he is up for re-election in 2024) amid this scandal and wins because regardless of the scandals, people continue to pull the handle for him.
After all, he won re-election in the midst of an identical scandal in 2018, so why would we expect anything different here?