While details of the latest investigation are scarce, the Semafor report says “the outline of the new investigation is similar to that of the 2017 case,” but does not implicate the former co-defendant and friend. de Menendez, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen.
In the previous case, prosecutors accused Menendez of performing political favors for Melgen — such as interceding on his behalf when he was under investigation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and discouraging donation of port security screening equipment to the Dominican Republic for the benefit of a company in which Melgen had a stake – in exchange for political donations, private jet flights and a lavish vacation at Melgen’s Dominican villa.
Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey, argued that everything he did for Melgen was out of friendship and there was no quid pro quo.
After a lengthy trial in 2017, a jury is deadlocked, with most members wanting to acquit Menendez. Prosecutors initially announced their intention to try Menendez again, but quickly backed down.
The new investigation threatens to cloud Menendez’s planned re-election campaign in 2024.
But Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a hugely influential figure in the New Jersey Democratic Party, so it’s unlikely that many, if any, party officials will publicly distance themselves from him anytime soon. When Menendez was indicted in 2015, Democrats — including the senator. Cory Booker (DN.J.) — publicly stood by his side, with some even showing up to witness part of his trial.
Democrats had reason to fear Menendez might leave office last time out. Republican Chris Christie was governor and reportedly named an interim replacement. Current Democratic Governor Phil Murphy’s term does not end until January 2026.
The news also comes as Menendez’s son, Robert J. Menendez, is running for the House seat Menendez held before he was elevated to the Senate in 2006. The young Menendez, a Democrat with little political experience, shows up in one of New Jersey’s strongest states. democratic constituencies and does not face a serious challenge.