The Sordid Second Season of the Robert Menendez Bribery Series

There’s a really sordid aspect regarding the timing of the indictment of Robert Menendez unveiled yesterday. Its timeline starts in February 2018, when Nadine Arslanian first starts dating the senior Senator from New Jersey. That was just weeks — possibly days! — after the last bribery case against Menendez ended.

So weeks after DOJ decided not to retry Menendez on his first bribery case, a then-unemployed woman, Nadine Arslanian, started dating the disgraced Senator and, within weeks of that, she alerted an Egyptian friend, Wael Hana, that she was dating him. That set off the most alarming — but probably not the stongest — part of the case: that Menendez was feeding Egypt information and ultimately set up a back channel with an Egyptian intelligence official, meeting at his home in Egypt in October 2021. Those are alarming allegations, but not allegations as clearly tied to financial payoffs to Menendez as some other things.

It’s like some TV producer decided to renew a series for a second season based off an entirely new story line slapped on the older story. “I know! We’ll throw a woman in the mix!”

Aside from that 2021 trip, much of the Egyptian influence operation happened before Nadine and Menendez were married in October 2020. For much of the period, Nadine complained she wasn’t being paid (in a no-work job at Hana’s Halal company). And some of the meetings between Menendez and the Egyptians would not be that far outside the norm for a Senate Foreign Relations Member, much less the Chair. The trip to Egypt, probably accidentally, was made official, giving Menendez legal cover for it. And the seeming bribery immediately upon his return — like a lot of the other payments in this period — came from a long-time Menendez fundraiser, Fred Daibes, or from a Hana associate, Jose Uribe, not directly from Hana.

In other words, this story appears to start with Nadine’s friends exploiting the access she got through her relationship with Menendez. That, as alleged, is largely her corruption. And to prove the corruption, DOJ will need to prove that the payments she only belatedly got were not part of a legitimate job. It’s sketchy as hell. It raises questions about Foreign Agent laws (especially for Hana). But at least as presented in the indictment, that’s not the strongest evidence, certainly not against Menendez.

The stuff that more directly implicates Menendez is his intervention in several criminal investigations, first in the case of an Uribe associate, then in the case of Daibes, Menendez’ longtime fundraiser. Menendez allegedly tried to intervene with prosecutors to help an Uribe associate beat a state charge, and Daibes beat a federal charge, but as described, both cases resolved in probation plea deals without his interference having any effect.

The items DOJ claims must be forfeited as fruits of the crime provide a sense of how much more Daibes allegedly paid Menendez than Hana:

  • The Menendez’ residence in Englewood Cliffs (this may have originally belonged to Nadine, in which case the forfeiture stems from mortgage payments of $23,000 IS EG Halal made on the residence in July 2019)
  • The $75,000 2019 Mercedes C300 José Uribe paid for starting in 2019, which the Menendez’ tried to make look like a loan retroactively in July 2022; it’s not clear — and DOJ doesn’t say — whether the Mercedes was payoff for the Egyptian influence or for Menendez’ attempt to influence the prosecution of Uribe’s associate
  • $486,461 in cash, some of which bore Daibes’ DNA or fingerprints, one envelope of which had Menendez’ DNA, some of which was stashed in a Menendez jacket
  • $79,760 in cash seized in Nadine’s safe deposit box
  • 2 1-KG bars of gold seized on June 16, 2022; these — and at least two others that Nadine sold for around $120,000 in March 2022 — likely came from Daibes
  • 11 1-ounce bars of gold seized on June 16, 2022; these were likely what remained of 22 ounces total, originally valued at around $39,600, purchased by Hana after some meetings with Egyptian officials on June 23, 2021
  • An account tied to Strategic International Business Consultants, which Nadine formed in June 2019 after IS EG Halal got its monopoly and to which IS EG Halal paid three $10,000 payments in August, September, and November 2019

So the Mercedes (worth $75,000) at least appears to be payoff for Menendez’ efforts to help an Uribe associate beat a state case. As noted, the indictment says prosecutors shielded the investigative team from Menendez’ interference, but Uribe and the associate nevertheless had a celebratory dinner with Menendez attributing his legal good fortune to Menendez.

Because the roughly $100,000 in payments from Hana — with the exception of the one-ounce gold bars — came through IS EG Halal, DOJ will need to prove that Nadine’s no-work job really wasn’t a job or at least not a legal one.

The bulk of the payments, around $720,000 in cash and gold (the indictment also references checks not itemized here), came from Daibes. While he had financial ties to Hana, he also had a long-lasting relationship as a fundraiser for Menendez, and DOJ doesn’t lay out when the money came in. Given the extent of that relationship, Menendez’ intervention with the US Attorney’s office (and his equivocations about supporting Phil Sellinger’s appointment) are corrupt as hell but not unusual for Washington.

After all, Attorney General Garland only got confirmed after assuring Lindsey Graham and other Senators that he would continue the politically influenced criminal investigations into Hunter Biden and (by John Durham) of Hillary Clinton and her associates. And the entire House GOP is continuing such demands to this day, in part because their Sugar Daddy, Donald Trump, demands it.

There has to be something more to the Daibes’ money, something not laid out in this indictment. Particularly given that there are no campaign finance allegations, DOJ has not ruled out that Menendez was just on a regular take from Daibes. It simply doesn’t account for the amount of money Daibes allegedly gave Menendez, nor does it tie that money to specific quid pro quos.

(Daily Beast reports that Daibes has or had ties with the Italian mafia.)

Similarly, there must be more explanation to the Daibes’ plea deal. This indictment suggests that Sellinger’s First AUSA, Vikas Khanna, rebuffed Menendez’ efforts to intervene in the Daibes case, just like NJ state prosecutors rebuffed his efforts to intervene in the case of the Uribe associate who nevertheless attributed his plea to Menendez. The NJ USAO only belatedly clarified that Sellinger was recused and the plea had been approved by Khanna on the day of the indictment. And it’s hard to explain the repeated continuances of Daibes’ sentencing, first in September 2022, then in December 2022, then in March 2023, then in July 2023; sentencing for Daibes and his co-defendant is currently set for October 23, 2023. The sentencing submissions submitted in August 2022 remain sealed. If Daibes started cooperating in this case after the June 2022 searches of the other co-defendants, it might make sense, but there’s no hint of that.

Likewise, there’s no ready explanation for why SDNY is prosecuting this instead of NJ USAO. Rather than any mention that this got referred from one of those NJ offices, which is what you would hope happened if a politician attempted to influence a prosecution, the indictment establishes venue in fairly tangential acts (marked in blue in the timeline below): Two dinners Menendez and Nadine had in Manhattan, the loan payments Uribe arranged through a bank in the Bronx, and a text Nadine sent on September 5, 2019.

Finally, it’s not clear whether this investigation arose out of an investigation — perhaps for being a foreign agent, which inexplicably is not included in this indictment — into Hana, which led up to the search of his phone in November 2019 but which doesn’t appear to have alarmed anyone, or out of further scrutiny of Daibes.

Or maybe, after the prosecution failed the last time, DOJ Public Integrity (which was heavily involved in the first prosecution of Menendez) just kept watching, knowing he’d stumble again.

Some of the overt acts in this indictment — most notably when Menendez provided sensitive information about embassy staffing to the Egyptians — happened more than five years ago, so they’re only included as part of a conspiracy that continued for years after that. But I wouldn’t rule out that we get more clarity about all this money in a superseding indictment.

Update: Added the detail that the June 21, 2021 meeting with Egypt’s Intelligence head pertained to Egypt’s role in the Jamal Khashoggi assassination.


Below, I’ve bolded key payments (there are other payments that DOJ does not date in the indictment). I’ve marked in pink the engagement and marriage of Nadine and Menendez, which may change the legal import of Nadine’s actions with Menendez. I’ve marked the acts that SDNY uses to establish venue in blue.

April 1, 2015: DOJ indicts Menendez and longterm associate, Salomen Melgen.

June 27, 2016: US v McDonnell decision.

July 17, 2017: Menendez moves to dismiss in light of US v McDonnell decision.

August 2017: State Department withholds $195 million in military support for Egypt and cancels $65.7 million in other financing.

November 16, 2017: Jury hangs in Salomon Melgen trial.

January 19, 2018: DOJ notices intent to retry case.

January 24, 2018: Judge William Walls grants Menendez’ Rule 29 motion on 7 of 18 counts.

January 31, 2018: DOJ moves to dismiss first bribery case.

February 2018: Nadine Arslanian, at the time unemployed, starts dating Menendez.

Early 2018: Nadine tells Hana she is dating Menendez.

March 2018: Menendez meets with Egyptian Official-1, Nadine, and Hana, without his professional staffers, in his DC Senate office and discusses foreign military funding.

April 2018: Uribe tells Hana that “the deal is to kill and stop all investigation”‘ of associate investigated for insurance fraud.

May 6, 2018: After meeting with Nadine and Hana (location uncertain), Menendez seeks out number and nationality of peoeple working at US Embassy in Cairo.

May 7, 2018: Menendez texts details of Embassy staffing to Nadine, who forwarded it to Hana, who forwarded it to Egyptian Official-2.

May 2018: Menendez has fancy dinner with Hana after which Hana texts Egyptian Official-1 that “the ban on small arms and ammunition to Egypt has been lifted.”

May 2018: Nadine gets Menendez to ghost write letter asking other Senators to release $300 million hold. He sends ghost-written letter to her via personal email; she sends it to Hana. Both delete the email.

Several months after March 2018: Nadine expresses hope that Egypt “replace him,” meaning Hana. 

June 30, 2018: Menendez, Nadine, and Hana meeting in Manhattan restaurant. 

July 2018: After meeting with Egyptian Official-1 set up by Nadine and Hana, Menendez tells Nadine he will sign off on $99 million sale to Egypt, stating that they have had such arms for many years and use them for counterterrorism in the Sinai.

October 30, 2018: Fred Daibes charged by US Attorney for obtaining loans under false pretenses.

December 2018: Nadine has car accident and starts complaining to Hana that she does not have a car.

January 27, 2019: Menendez, Nadine, and Hana meet at dinner (Uribe was invited but did not attend), after which Hana starts sending Nadine texts about Uribe associate’s criminal case. Nadine deleted those messages.

January 29, 2019: After reviewing texts with Nadine (which both deleted), Menendez attempts to pressure Official-2 to resolve the prosecution of Uribe’s associate. Official-2 does not intervene.

February 3, 2019: Nadine texts Hana, “I’m so excited to get a car next week !!”

2018 to 2019: Hana’s halal firm, which had no revenue, did not deliver on payments promised to Nadine.

March 12, 2019: Nadine and Uribe speak for 21 minutes, after which Uribe texts, “I am real. I will stand by my word.”

March 27, 2019: Uribe directs Nadine to a Mercedes dealer, after which she sends Menendez pictures to help pick a color.

April 2019: Uribe associate resolves case with guilty plea that was more favorable than prosecutors’ initial plea offer.

April 3, 2019: Nadine texts dealer saying Uribe told her to pick up car on April 5.

April 3, 2019: Uribe tells associate, “I need 15k cash this afternoon.”

April 4, 2019: Nadine texts Menendez that she’s going “to meet Jose for five minutes;” in the parking lot of a restaurant, he hands her $15,000 in cash.

April 5, 2019: Nadine uses the $15,0000 as a down payment to get the Mercedes, paying the rest with a loan based on false financing claims.

April 7, 2019: Egyptian government official informs Hana he’ll become sole certifier for halal imports.

April 8, 2019: Nadine texts Menendez, “seems like halal went through. It might be a fantastic 2019 all the way around.”

Spring 2019: Egypt grants Hana’s halal company, IS EG Halal, exclusive monopoly on certifiying meat exported from the US to Egypt as halal.

April and May 2019: USDA complains to Egypt about monopoly grant to IS EG Halal.

May 2019: Uribe starts paying off Nadine’s loan, via an associate’s Bronx business account, keeping his name out of it.

May 3, 2019: Uribe causes associate to pay off Nadine’s loan through bank in the Bronx.

May 21, 2019: Menendez, Hana, and Egyptian Official-3 meet twice, the second time at steakhouse in DC. They discuss human rights issue. Hana requests Menendez’ intervention on USDA objections to IS EG Halal monopoly.

May 22 and 23, 2019: Hana provides Nadine information on USDA objections. She texts them to Menendez, and later deletes them.

May 23, 2019: Menendez intervenes with USDA Official-1, asking him to stop interfering with IS EG Halal’s monopoly. Official-1 did not accede to demand, but IS EG Halal kept monopoly.

June 2019: Nadine forms Strategic International Business Consultants, LLC, explaining to a relative she would use it to get paid. “Every time I’m in a middle person for a deal I am asking to get paid and this is my consulting company.”

July 2019: After mortgage company moves to foreclose on Nadine, IS EG Halal pays $23,000 to bring Nadine’s mortgage current. As part of those discussions, Nadine said, “When I feel comfortable and plan the trip to Egypt [Hana] will be more powerful than the president of Egypt.” [DOJ does not allege Menendez was part of this discussion.]

July 2019: A New Jersey detective asks to interview Uribe’s associate, leading Menendez to attempt to intervene again.

July 31, 2019: Uribe contacts Nadine saying “We need to move fast” … “We can stop this.” Nadine responds that she will “address itfirst thing tomorrow morning or tonight depending on when he is home.” Menendez does Google search on State agency employing insurance fraud investigator.

August 30, 2019: IS EG Halal pays Nadine $10,000.

September 3, 2019: Uribe texts Nadine saying, “Please don’t forget about me. I will never forget about you” … “I need peace.”

September 4, 2019: Menendez sets up meeting with NJ prosecutor for September 6.

September 5, 2019: Menendez, Nadine, and Uribe meet at Nadine’s house.

September 5, 2019: Nadine sends Uribe a text sent through cell tower in Manhattan.

September 6, 2019: Prosecutor meets with Menendez, Menendez informs Uribe the meeting was “very positive.”

September 9, 2019: Egyptian Official-3 texts Hana relaying that a State Department official told an Egyptian diplomatic official that “Senator Menendize put a hold on a billion $ of usaid to Egypt before the recess !!!!” Hana attempted to contact Nadine, then forwarded the Egyptian text to Daibes, who called Menendez and then responded that it wasn’t true.

September 2019: Menendez offered to provide assistance to Hana and Egypt during official trip to India, then later meets with Daibes, Hana, and Egyptian Official-3.

September 2019: Nadine complains to Daibes that Hana had not paid her. Daibes responds, “Nadine I personally gave Bob a check for September.”

September 2019: Nadine texts Menendez complaining that Hana has not left her an envelope, referencing a meeting Menendez had with senior Egyptian officials “last Saturday.” Nadine called Daibes.

September 21, 2019: Menendez, Hana, Daibes, and Egyptian Official-4 meet at restaurant in Manahattan.

September 28, 2019: IS EG Halal pays Nadine $10,000.

October 2019: Menendez and Nadine get engaged.

October 29, 2019: Uribe texts Nadine for an update. Menendez calls Uribe, after which he tells Nadine he is “a very happy person.”

After October 29, 2019: Menendez, Nadine, Uribe, and associate have celebratory dinner.

November 5, 2019: Uribe texts Nadine about automatic payments for Mercedes Benz.

November 5, 2019: IS EG Halal pays Nadine $10,000.

November 9, 2019: Uribe sets up automatic payments through another trucking company, ultimately paying $30,000 in addition to the cash down payment.

November 2019: Search of Hana’s cell phone reveals thousands of text messages with Nadine, many of which she had deleted.

March 2020: Nadine texts Egyptian Official-3 and offers to help, then setting up meeting with “the general,” after which Menendez intervenes to pressure State to increase its engagement on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

October 2020: Menendez, Nadine, Egyptian Official-3 ,and Egyptian Official-4 meet for dinner in Edgewater, NJ.

October 2020: Menendez and Nadine get married.

December 2020: Menendez and Nadine have dinner meeting with Egyptian Official-3.

December 2020: Menendez meets with US Attorney candidate and complains about prosecution of Fred Daibes. US Attorney candidate tells Menedez he might have to recuse. Menendez told US Attorney candidate he would not recommend him.

Early 2021: IS EG Halal delivers two exercise machines and air purifier to Menendez home.

May 2, 2021: Advisor intervenes with US Attorney candidate about recusing, tells Menendez “you’ll be comfortable with what he says.” Menendez recommends candidate. After confirmation, he recuses.

June 21, 2021: Nadine and Egyptian Official-4 organized meeting between Menendez and Egyptian Intelligence Head Abbas Kamel, in advance of meeting with other Senators that day. Both Nadine and Menendez alert Egyptian Official-4 that other Senators were going to raise a human rights issue. Per this thread (ThreadReader is down right now but it’s here) and this Isikoff story, the human rights issue was Egypt’s involvement in the execution of Jamal Khashoggi.

June 23, 2021: Hana purchases 22 one ounce gold bars, each worth $1,800. Two were found at Menendez residence in June 2022 search.

October 2021: Nadine arranges trip for her and Menendez to Egypt, originally planned as unofficial visit. When a SFRC took steps that made it an official visit, Egyptian Official-4 said he might lose his job. During the trip, Menendez had meeting at home of Egyptian Official-5 (the intelligence official).

October 17, 2021: Driver for Fred Daibes picks up the Menendezes from trip to Egypt; the next day Menendez searches, “how much is one kilo of gold worth.”

December 23, 2021: Daibes’ trial adjourned. Daibes asks about Menendez’ shoulder injury. Nadine responds that Menendez is fixated on trial date. Daibes sent recliner to Menendez.

December 2021 through February 2022: Menendez asks Advisor to ask why US Attorney recused himself.

January 2022: Menendez sends Nadine a link about military sales to Egypt totally $2.5 billion; Nadine forwards ot Hana, saying that Menendez had to sign off on it.

January 21, 2022: Menendez called NJ US Attorney and asked for First AUSA name.

January 22, 2022: Menendez complains to Daibes that his attorney has not been aggressive enough.

January 24, 2022: Nadine has two calls with Daibes’ driver. “Christmas in January.” Thousands in cash with Daibes’ DNA later found at residence. 

January 29, 2022: Menendez searches for “kilo of gold price.”

January 31, 2022; Menendez calls First AUSA, then calls Daibes.

March 2022: Menendez asks Advisor to bring up Daibes at lunch with US Attorney, Advisor declines to do so.

March 30, 2022: Nadine thanks Daibes, then sells 2 1-KG gold bars to jeweler, each worth $60,000.

March 31, 2022: Two 1-KG gold bars Nadine provided to jeweler sold in Manhattan.

April 2022: Daibes pleads guilty to plea agreement providing probationary sentence. Sentencing has been continued repeatedly since plea.

June 2022: Federal agents approach Menendez, Nadine, and Uribe, after which Menendez pays Nadine $23,000 and Nadine pays Uribe $21,000.

June 16, 2022: Search discovers:

  • 2 1-KG gold bars
  • 9 1-ounce gold bars
  • 10 envelopes of cash, each with 10s of 1000s of dollars, bearing Daibes’ fingerprints, one which included fingerprints of Menendez

July 14, 2023: Sentencing for Daibes and co-defendant reset, for fourth time, for October 23, 2023.

September 21, 2023: DOJ amends sentencing agreement to note that Phil Sellinger was recused and Vikas Khanna oversaw the Daibes prosecution.

September 21, 2023: Indictment

170 replies
  1. DJF says:

    You should sell your piece to be turned into a TV movie for Netflix.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Each time you change either your username or email the comment system assumes you’re a new user. You commented last as “David in NYC” which meets the site’s 8-letter minimum. Make a note of this and stick to the same username and email each time you comment or your comments may be permanently stuck in moderation. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  2. Martin Cooper says:

    Great timeline. There appear to be two separate but intertwined strands to the story—the Egyptian strand and the local corruption strand. I can only comment on the former. I speculate Egyptian intelligence watched with interest the 2015-2018 corruption case against Menendez and perceived Menendez to be the sort of “bent” guy who might be susceptible to recruitment, or at least manipulation. Hana might already have been a recruited Egyptian asset or at least an informal collaborator. Nadine may or may not have already had a relationship with Egyptian intelligence but it seems possible Hana was directed to launch Nadine against Menendez at IHOP. Within a month of the February 2018 IHOP encounter, Menendez was already meeting an Egyptian official to discuss foreign military sales, and two months later, in May, Menendez was already passing the classic corruptibility test the Egyptians threw at him by providing the unclassified but sensitive U.S. Embassy Cairo staffing roster—which, by the way, would be of limited use to the Egyptians; it’s just a trick to draw a target in further. Then, that same month, Menendez arranges for the ban on small arms and ammo to be lifted. Further Menendez favors for Egypt follow. Nadine is supposed to get paid for her efforts in this operation via Hana’s halal firm, but that’s not happening, so Egypt gives IS EG Halal the meat export certification monopoly, thereby ensuring a stable and continuing finance mechanism to support the Hana-Nadine-Menendez influence network, a textbook covert action operation.

    • emptywheel says:

      I agree that’s what it looks like. Menedez was an easy mark and the levers to get him were readily accessible. What I’m confused by is the absence of foreign agent charges, unless they’re either coming, or already charged against Hana.

      And I’m quite interested in how motivated Nadine was.

      • Hope Ratner says:

        Scrolling through Google images and viewing the couple together, makes it all so clear – at least to me – that this was perhaps only a one-sided *love match.* The timing from their IHOP meet to the beginning of the end in which she married Menendez is so suspicious.

      • jdmckay8 says:

        And I’m quite interested in how motivated Nadine was.

        From only the little bit I’ve seen, she seems a bit ditzy. Not a type capable of international grift/graft. Maybe she simply wanted to get paid. It happens.

      • Martin Cooper says:

        Foreign agent charges indeed may be coming. If not, their absence may relate to reluctance to reveal U.S. counterintelligence sources and methods in court and/or avoidance of a diplomatic relations dust-up with Egypt.

        • bmaz says:

          So, you are suggesting that there is yet another DOJ attorney serially stringing out known facts and charges to take leverage and advantage of a defendant? Do you approve of that? Where I come from, that is called vindictive/abusive prosecution. Seems a lot of people here cheer that, but I wonder how they would like it if the vile tactic were being used on them or a family member?

          • Rugger_9 says:

            Not necessarily, I read this as a potential for a superseding indictment and perhaps the sources and methods piece was judged to be too sensitive to risk exposure to defense notice.

            Let’s remember that the prior administration [allegedly] deliberately made a wreck of the IC at the behest of Putin and MBS, so I would expect the IC will be a little more gun shy about exposure risks and I’m pretty certain that there is cross-referencing for their remaining Middle East assets.

            I would speculate therefore that SDNY decided these charges would be enough to remove Senator Menendez permanently from the political scene and potentially put him in jail for the rest of his life. No need to add the FARA charges without a significant benefit to break up the ring.

            As for whether Egypt was involved (remember that Al-Sissi was another friend of the previous administration) let’s see if any diplomats get expelled for conduct inconsistent with their status.

            • Shadowalker says:

              For crying out loud. FARA applies to the Executive branch and no one is expelling any diplomats over this. Before anyone goes down that rabbit hole of thinking indictment equals guilt, keep firmly in mind that in this country, the burden of proof is always on the accuser, both in civil matters and especially criminal.

              • FL Resister says:

                They caught Menendez with gold bars at his house and cash stuffed into his jacket pockets. Nadine whining about getting paid.
                Why was he allowed to stay on the Senate Intel Committee this long.

                • bmaz says:

                  I’m sorry, has there been a conviction yet? No? Then how are you going to summarily remove Menendez? Does the presumption of innocence mean anything to you? Should the Dems impeach him? While Congress can’t even fund the budget? Is that what you want?

      • LawnBeastman says:

        So do you think there’s a chance he’ll flip on her and walk?

        Jersey native here, I hate Menendez so much, he tried to mess with Obama’s Iran deal, he pulled such bs last trial “praying” with “evangelicals”, now his flipping son’s in Congress, why not put Frank Pallone in his place? what say you Senator Booker? (crickets) every Dem in NJ from Gov. Murphy on down couldn’t wait to endorse Rob Menendez for Congress based on his policy positions of being Senator Bob Menendez’ son.
        They all knew then like they all know now what a snake he is. He won’t survive the primary this time. Buh-bye Bob, you bring shame to honest hardworking Latinos and politicians both.
        PS EW I read you every day at least once, THANK YOU! ❤️🙏

          • BRUCE F COLE says:

            Yup. Different this time.

            Dems know they need to expeditiously jettison drag-anchors like him at this point. It’s not just the survival of the republic at stake next year, it’s the survival of the Dem party and brand, already tarnished by a dearth of young leaders who hold significant sway.

            This is a true fight to the death for both parties.

            • ButteredToast says:

              Dearth of young leaders

              Do you mean in Congress? There are a number of excellent young (for politics) Democratic governors. Even in Congress, Hakeem Jeffries is 53, younger than McCarthy or Scalise. The no. 3 Democrat, Peter Aguilar, is 44. In the Senate, Democratic leadership is definitely on the older side. But, respectfully, being young isn’t everything. Kyrsten Sinema is a comparatively young 47. I’d much prefer another Sherrod Brown (70).

              I agree with you about the need to jettison Menendez. My suspicion about the reluctance of Democratic Senators (except Fetterman) is that they’re trying to ensure he won’t switch parties out of spite. It seems unlikely given Menendez’s voting record, but if he’s truly vengeful, who knows? I have little doubt Republicans would welcome that extra seat for the next year-plus. Not saying that Schumer and co. are making the right calculation, but it probably is a calculation.

              • BRUCE F COLE says:

                I wrote “dearth of young leaders with significant sway,”

                Jeffries and Aguilar are outliers in that “significant sway” respect. Senima isn’t a Dem, though she certainly has sway. And the fact that you pine for a 70 y.o. guy, instead of a half-dozen ~40-50 y.o. prospects, makes my point.

                • ButteredToast says:

                  True, Sinema is no longer a Democrat. But she receives her committee assignments from the Democratic caucus. And really…? I “pine for a 70 y.o. guy??” I was purposely giving an example of how age in itself isn’t the determining factor in whether a senator is out-of-touch, has enough energy, or is a barrier to Democratic goals. Brown happens to represent my home state, so he came quickly to mind as a positive contrast to Sinema. Would it make you happier if I mention that I’d also prefer another Raphael Warnock, Cory Booker, or Jon Ossoff to Sinema? (I’d prefer Dick Durbin not be Senate Judiciary Chair, too, but his age isn’t the problem.)

                  I’m younger, myself, but believe that if the Democratic party “brand is tarnished” it’s less by age of its leaders and more by rightwing-media brainwashing on one hand and incompetent Democratic messaging on the other. And there are plenty of examples of incompetent messaging coming from young Dem politicians, too. Yes, I do think that Pelosi and Hoyer clung to leadership too long.

        • Eileen Lynch says:

          Completely agree with you on many points.

          So glad this is happening to him although I always thought (after he seemed to get away with the corruption last time) that his downfall would come from women. Or girls. I’ve seen him twice (pre-Nadine) with very young attractive women in Hoboken where he lived for awhile. And it was creepy as hell. Pretty obvious what was going on. Girls never seemed very happy.

          [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. Please omit an entry in the URL field as it wasn’t included in your previous comments. /~Rayne]

          • LawnBeastman says:

            Okay, well that makes me want to vomit and shower and I loathe him even more now. How ironic that because he was targeted by a woman his age, perhaps younger women of the metro area will be a little safer from Bob from now on.

  3. Old Rapier says:

    They met at a New Jersey IHOP.

    What luck! Go figure. I mean really, what are the chances? Pretty good actually. Most everything that happens is random but we insist on seeing causal relationships, ie. conspiracy theories. Sure, she could have sought him out as a mark and followed him till she got close and set the hook at IHOP. Probably not

    • Rayne says:

      My question about this scenario: is Menendez a creature of habit? Is this IHOP some place he’s known to frequent? Divorced dude probably doesn’t cook.

      My second question is two-parter: what happened to his fiancee to whom he proposed in 2013? is there any link between Menendez’s 2005 divorce and Arslanian’s 2005 divorce because it’s a coincidence both split from their first spouses the same year.

      • Drew in Bronx says:

        I read in some article that it was one of Menendez’ favorite haunts since he’d been mayor in Union NJ. The introduction was by the owner of the IHOP so it couldn’t have been an accidental meeting. (I also can’t locate the source-and maybe I’m just hallucinating, but I thought I saw that Hana was the contact between Arslanian and the IHOP owner–again, that’s not something I can document).

        The whole indictment reads like a mashup of the Sopranos and Real Housewives of Englewood. All the business guys indicted are networkers, if not “connected” – so it seems quite credible that Nadine could have been set up with Bob without herself realizing that she was targeting a U.S. Senator–or maybe she did know.

        In any case, she and Hana had been friends for a long time and it’s hard to believe that he wasn’t already connected in some way with Egyptian intelligence before February 2018.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’m pretty sure old intelligence hands don’t believe in coincidences. If this was an op against a senior Senator on the foreign relations committee – if susceptible, a prime target – then whatever his habits were, they would have been well-documented in order to plan the op.

      Menendez would have been a much juicier target than say, David Brooks, who frequently claims to dine at the most out of the way places in order to faux document his opinions.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Reading more than one piece by David Brooks would tell you that he prides himself on travels to what he considers faraway places – measured by the New Yorker map of the world as seen from 9th Avenue. While spending the required fifteen minutes on site, he interviews the indigenous population, preferably at diners, to verify opinions he already holds. (Bobos in Paradise, On Paradise Drive, and the oxymoronic, The Road to Character.)

          As for Newark airport, which the New Yorker map ominously omits, it does not appear to be the favorite destination of Manhattanites (where Bobo grew up). Besides, Bobo lives on Capitol Hill, not the Upper East Side, so faraway it is.

          • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

            I think the Tweet was half-drunk knowing satire of a ridiculous kind of political meme you see all the time from Dr. Oz or somebody. You see Brooks is one and a half double whiskeys into this project. He knows the bill is going to be for the whiskey! It’s a joke! He just drank all that whiskey, lol! It might be a cry for help. David is day drinking again! Time for another intervention!

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Brooks might have been in his cups, but the “It’s a joke!” excuse, often used to avoid a defamation claim, is a lame.

            • Just Some Guy says:

              There is no reason to give David Brooks, a man with a complete and utter obliviousness to his own foolishness, any benefit of the doubt.

          • Just Some Guy says:

            There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to read one piece by David Brooks, much less more than one.

            The reference to Newark International Airport Terminal A was regarding how this past week Brooks took to Xitter to complain about the “price” of a hamburger at a restaurant there, omitting the fact that the whiskey also seen in his photo surely was the largest factor of his $78 bill. The restaurant, and many, many more people, have been roasting him ever since.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Brooks tweeted recently about the cost of a booze and burger meal at Newark airport? No shit Sherlock.

              No one to the left of Genghis Khan has given David Brooks the benefit of the doubt for years; that’s a straw man argument. And if you don’t read what he says, it’s very Brooksian to comment forcefully about what he says, isn’t it?

              • Just Some Guy says:

                Take a chill pill, Watson.

                Speaking of strawmen, saying “Manhattanites” don’t use Newark International Aiport shows the stuffing coming out!

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  One more time, because you sometimes misread posts. I did not say New Yorkers didn’t use Newark airport. I said many did not like it. They would be among the majority, as Newark is rated near the bottom of major airports. Pretty sure that’s not breaking news.

          • Knowaall says:

            An amen chorus for your eviceration of Brooks, with his treacly moralizing and offensive condescension. May he and Tom Friedman rot in NYT hell.

            • Rugger_9 says:

              Let’s see if Charlie Pierce gets mad enough to write a column about it. Always entertaining reading and I feel for Moral Hazard.

  4. Preston Dansfield says:

    The max price I can build out for a 2024 Mercedes 4matic C300 is ~$60K. I suspect the $75K car referenced in the indictment must have been an AMG C 43 which seems much more like the type of car someone with Egyptian gold bars in their closet would drive.

  5. jdmckay8 says:

    November 2019: Search of Hana’s cell phone reveals thousands of text messages with Hana, (…)

    Text messages with himself? More likely… Nadine for $100, Alex!!!

    Compared to so much other really nasty nefarious activity I’ve seen from lawmakers in recent years, this seems quite low on the seriousness-of-alleged-offense scale.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Is that conclusion based on seeing the prosecution’s whole file of evidence, or just the indictment?

        • jdmckay8 says:

          Whatever the case, its a helluva lot less than the $2b whats-his-name has so far, walked on.

          But, you are right. I don’t know, as you say. I do know, from what was published, he and Nadine’s total take was +/-$600k. And the favors he pushed for were not (at least to me) hair raising. Kind of like the charges he was not convicted of in ’18: on the edge of ethics and propriety, but not a crime.

          Could almost bookend Kushner at MAX level on scale of ethical and legal breaches in government, and the “really really hot” Senator on the LOW end.

  6. AgainBrain says:

    Thanks for gathering and building that timeline, it makes the ridiculousness of the whole situation even clearer.

    It’s all slimy as hell, and Menendez is clearly a corrupt, oblivious dolt of the highest tier, no question. Still, am I the only one who finds it hilarious that within hours of Menendez beginning to date his to-be-wife, she’s already advertising his influence for profit, and he doesn’t appear to miss a beat?

    Where does a rutting government bigshot go to find dates whose social networks are tuned towards mutual enrichment via influence peddling? Is there a special dating site? Less Ashley Madison, more Payola Von Coxwallow? Or maybe his first corruption prosecution was intended to chum the waters and draw in such candidates?

    “I’m a senator, so we’ll need to go through your friends… Egyptian Halal import certifier?! Well then, how many carets for the ring, and did you want a spring or summer wedding?”

  7. RipNoLonger says:

    I guess I don’t understand the qui bono here. There are some details on payments by people/organizations to the Menendez’s here but the benefits from these payments don’t seem to have made a bunch of difference to anyone’s personal positions. Is this more of a national interaction?

    The Egyptian government is a sometimes friend of the US and receives a whole lot of aid in return – probably to provide a counter-balance to some of the other teetering countries in north Africa. But these transactions don’t appear to have a lot of bearing on this relationship.

    Who else is benefiting from compromising Menendez? There are several operators in the middle east that may have interest in his actions way beyond Egypt.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As for the cui bono, we may not know from the indictment. If this was an op, it’s not clear how far into it we got before the feds intervened. If it was still in the set-up phase, there wouldn’t be big pay-offs. More likely, the focus would be on setting the hook into Menendez, getting him on a series of increasingly corrupt acts.

      Given his senior role in the Senate, making him vulnerable itself would have been a win. Getting him to back Jared Kushner-level benefits would have simply been a bigger win.

      • AgainBrain says:

        It doesn’t really seem like getting Menendez “on the hook” involved more than just sitting, watching and waiting. There might be some kompromat targeting involved here, I agree there’s a faint whiff of something “off”. Nadine comes across as a bit too eager to graft, and her connections seem a bit too “well-connected”. Something feels too convenient about her and her pals. We’ll see.

        Unfortunately, Menendez also comes across as all too willing to entertain it, and this all began _immediately after_ a prior prosecution for corruption. Instead of hunkering down and being overly-cautious about every connection and relationship, he instead was out and about, ready and willing to shove others, but far less clear whether he did so intending to satisfy a transactional request.

        That current events feel so much like a continuation of past accusations definitely works against him. If this is some kind of kompromat effort targeting him, they chose a target whose past is going to make any defense difficult.

    • Drew in Bronx says:

      We get so used to huge numbers that we miss how big $600K (in cash, unreported tax free?) is to us ordinary schmoes–and Menendez is pretty ordinary in terms of income and assets, despite his desires and Nadine was unemployed and getting her house foreclosed on.

      This was important to Egypt, but not at Kushner level of outlay important. The U.S. military aid is HUGE for them, and getting the skids greased when the Democrats, especially, were getting restive and holding it up was a big deal for them. So I think they got their benefit from their outlay, and it was an important thing for them.

      (My theory about the lack of foreign agent charges, etc. is that the State Department wants this to be chill and not have mutual outrage and explusion of diplomats result–so one Senator & 4 low level operatives or connivers, or whatever, is something that State & Egypt can live with–I’m no expert however)

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Adding: If it’s true that they reconnected at a political event as that article states, I wonder what event it was. From other reports I’ve read, Nadine is a Republican.

      • SteveBev says:


        In May 2019, Mr. Menendez began orchestrating a much bigger number for proposing marriage to his girlfriend, Nadine Arslanian, •whom he met five months earlier at an IHOP in Union City, N.J.,• where Mr. Menendez grew up and was once mayor.

        “Bob told me that I will know when I’m being proposed to because of a certain song he will sing when the time comes,” said Ms. Arslanian, 53, who was born in Lebanon of Armenian descent
        She decided to play along, and when the tune was right, she would say yes to the man she had fallen head over flapjacks with •in December 2018.•

        “We were introduced by the owner of the IHOP, and
        (!) I didn’t know at that time that Bob was a senator,(!)”
        Ms. Arslanian said. “He was very intelligent and had a great sense of humor, and he was very, very hot.”

        (Emphasise added)

        I am not a counter intelligence expert but the ‘I didn’t know he was a Senator he was just a fabulously witty intelligent hot guy, a prince among frogs’ seems lavish with honey.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Yes, I had already seen that article. And Rayne also pointed out that Bob was engaged to someone else (Alicia Mucci, who has her own interesting background) in 2013. The Armenian Mirror Spectator may have confused some of the background info and conflated some circumstances between Alicia Mucci and Nadine Arslanian. Or maybe someone else found it useful to exploit a meet-cute story.

          • SteveBev says:

            It seems surprising to me that there’s such confusion in the sources as to whether Alicia Mucci and Menendez ever married, not so much that some confusion may arise, but that such confusion could persist bearing in mind Menendez longstanding presence on the public stage and a career involving considerable notoriety.

            • SteveBev says:

              That does seem very odd.

              It also seems odd that a public figure who seems prone to very public announcements of engagements to marry and weddings, is taken by some to have been married to Mucci when there’s a distinct lack of publicity surrounding the putative wedding. The mistake surrounding that seems to have arisen from Getty miscaptioning a photo from his swearing in, as the article you cited seems to suggest.

            • theartistvvv says:

              That is weird.

              Brittanica says In 2013 Menendez married Alicia Mucci, whom he had met at a fund-raiser. He had two children from a previous marriage (1976–2005) to Jane Jacobsen. https://www.britannica [BREAK] .com/biography/Bob-Menendez

              I read elseweb – can’t find it now – that he and his current wife were having an affair when he was “married” to Mucci.

              • Matt___B says:

                And Alicia Menendez, Bob’s daughter and an MSNBC weekend anchor, was not on-the-air this past weekend – Julian Castro was subbing for her apparently…

                  • Matt___B says:

                    Bmaz – admittedly tangential.

                    But interesting to me. Alicia defended her father publicly in the 2015 case before becoming a media figure.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      Reverse the Hunter-Joe Biden scenario.

                      Alicia hasn’t necessarily anything to do with what her daddy does.

                    • Kope a Pia says:

                      Matt, I did not know that Alicia Mendez was the Senators daughter and think it is a relevant relationship to bring up. I like her on MSNBC.
                      I would write more but commenting in a 10 letter wide screen is difficult.

                    • bmaz says:

                      It is Alicia Menendez, and that has been known for a very long time. Do you have any facts to bring her into this discussion?

                    • Matt___B says:

                      No facts so far. I’m just interested in seeing how MSNBC handles her presence/absence, or their willingness/unwillingness to let her speak about her father on-air.

  8. fubar jack says:

    So dude takes cash and gold bribes from Egyptian intelligence service. Egypt government and military receive huge support from US. Was this guy bribed with the US government’s own money. And why has the party establishment and rank and file not thrown him out into the cold unilaterally?

    • Yankee in TX says:

      It wouldn’t be the first time. One of the great untold stories of Watergate is the Greeks bribing the Republicans. In the 60’s the CIA gave the Greek Army money to help beat back the leftists (read Communists). To prevent a contested election, a junta of Greek Army Colonels overthrew the government, cancelled the elections and repressed civil liberties. To counter American concerns about the government’s repression, in 1969 the Colonels gave at least $300,000 to the Republican party. The bagman for these payments had a change of heart and reported the transactions. Nixon and the Republican leadership discredited the bagman.

      In 1972, Nixon wanted to know if the Democrats had any confirming evidence on this and other Republican scandals like Nixon’s treasonous back door communications with the South Vietnamese govt. in 1968. That’s why he had the plumbers tap the DNC’s phones!

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Not all Greek leftists were Communists, and few western European Communists were the creatures from hell envisioned by American conservatives. But the CIA treated leftists from the UK, France, Italy, etc. as arms of the same animal.

        The Greek Junta and the CIA were joined at the hip. And Nixon had many more secrets that he feared might come out before his 1972 re-election. The bags of cash from Taiwan is one of them.

  9. Upisdown says:

    Perhaps Egypt was feeling left out of Washington influence game among their neighbors. The Saudis had Jared, UAE and Qatar were working Broidy and Nader. And Erik Prince seemed to be coordinating the entire buy-a-politico market. It seems like Israel was staying clean, fortunately. (Wink wink. Nod nod.)

    In any event, Menendez must go. Schumer needs to pull the plug on him and show that Dems refuse to be part of scandal. Even though he is innocent until proven guilty in the justice system, Menendez is not entitled to inflict great damage to his party while he fights the charges.

    • Rayne says:

      And Erik Prince seemed to be coordinating the entire buy-a-politico market. It seems like Israel was staying clean, fortunately.

      Regardless of your seeming eye twitches and myoclonic jerk modifier, this needs evidence. Don’t throw claims around without supporting material.

  10. Peterr says:

    Third bullet point needs correction: “$486,461 in case” should be “$486,461 in cash.”

    I spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out how a case was stashed in a jacket before I recognized the (auto-correct eluding) typo.

  11. Peterr says:

    Please, please, please tell me that Robert “Gold Bars” Luskin is the lead attorney for Menendez.

    Legal Times
    DOJ Goes for the Gold
    by Timothy J. Burger, 2/9/97

    Washington lawyer Robert Luskin will admit this much: Receiving the bulk of his payment on behalf of a shady client in the form of 45 gold bars worth a cool half million was highly unusual. but it wasn’t improper, Luskin insists. . . .

    Or perhaps Menendez has a legal team already in place, and they are preparing to call Gold Bars Luskin as a witness for the defense.

  12. sohelpmedog says:

    Any way you slice it, a pathetic story when being a powerful U.S. senator is not enough and who knows what her story is. And their stupidity is overwhelming.

  13. sunflore says:

    How does the H/W relationship, within the timeline of alleged illegal activities, impact, or not, defense strategy?

    I don’t know this couple, but is there something available for the prosecution to exploit? This is not a long term relationship. Same question for the defense… Forget prestige, which defendant has the most, behind bars, exposure?

  14. WilliamOckham says:

    There are just so many unexplained and seemingly inexplicable events in this timeline. It really does come across like a TV series that can’t figure out what angle to play up.

    Think about the “How many people work at the Egyptian embassy?” episode. Here’s how I imagine the writers’ notes for that goes;

    [Narrator voice over] Previously on House of Cards: New Jersey Edition

    [Clips from last week’s episode are shown while “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by The Eurhythmics plays]
    [Bob and Nadine meet cute; Nadine brags to her friend “Will” that she’s dating a U.S. Senator; Egyptian military officer and his entourage arrive at the Senator’s office while Bob gets rid of his staff]

    Opening Scene: Restaurant [Notes: IHOP? Steak house? What ambiance are we going for here?]

    Bob and Nadine are pretty cozy when “Will” shows up. They were obviously expecting him but look a little abashed by their public display of affection. With a little prompting from “Will”, Nadine brings the conversation to around to the number of Americans vs. Egyptians at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
    [Notes: WTF? How do you plan on writing this scene in a believable way. Are you going for a Modern Family vibe here or The Sopranos?]

    Cut to Bob in his office, on the phone, pressing a low-level State Department staffer for the Embassy info. Eventually flustered staffer coughs up the information. [Notes: Probably need a scene of the staffer alerting his boss, this is State after all.]

    Scene: Nadine, relaxing by the pool, getting the text from Bob with the Embassy info. Nadine has a Mona Lisa smile as she forwards the text to “Will”. “Will” is in a meeting when he gets the text. At first he’s irritated by the interruption, but that quickly turns into a cold calculating smile as he forwards to the text to an Egyptian official (not the one from the previous episode). The Egyptian puts down his cell, checks the numbers from the text to ensure they match the ones on an official Egyptian intelligence report and picks up his desk phone. Fade to Black.

    [Notes: Ok, figure out how you are going to make the restaurant scene work. Then fill out the episode with the local corruption stuff and I think we can make this work.]

      • zscoreUSA says:


        Also very weird, are there any way Trump attacks at all on Melendez over the years? I would think, between the first corruption charge getting dismissed and Trump’s philosophy to punch back 10 times harder, that there would be low hanging fruit. New Jersey Dem so corrupt, 2 tiered justice, etc.

        I vaguely remember Trump saying Menendez good luck or wish him well or something like 5 years ago and thinking it a little odd Trump not attacking. There’s multiple instances of Menendez attacking Trump, but, unless I am missing something, that’s unusual restraint from Trump.

        • LawnBeastman says:

          Trump pardoned Salomon Melgen, the eye doctor who was convicted of defrauding Medicare, on his last day in office. Melgen was the one accused of bribing Menendez in the trial that ended in a hung jury.

          • taluslope says:

            Ooh, I’d like to know who put Melgen’s name up for a pardon. Also if there was any money involved.

            Or am I way off base asking questions?

            • FLwolverine says:

              Given what we’ve heard since Trump left office, perhaps we should ask who paid whom for Melgen’s pardon.

  15. Zinsky123 says:

    Excellent, invaluable investigative reporting, as usual. Even though my politics have leaned Democratic for decades, I have no sympathy for Senator Menendez. To me, he is the archetype of the sleazy politician and deserves whatever our justice system can throw at him. Menendez and his skeezy wife leave the stench of corruption on everything they touch and need to be behind bars as soon as possible! This indictment is also extremely unhelpful for Joe Biden, politically, as it gives the Gym Jordans and Gomer Comers of the world, a huge “what-aboutism” to wave around in the upcoming Biden impeachment canard. LOCK HIM UP!

  16. Frank Probst says:

    Wasn’t US v McDonnell the decision that said that unless there was a signed contract with the header “THIS IS A BRIBE”, and the contract explicitly stated the quid pro quo, then it’s not a bribe? (I’m paraphrasing a bit here.)

    It’s just a coincidental exchange of gifts between friends that happen to have business with the government.

    So why not just hit him with a bunch of tax fraud charges? If you can’t make those stick, then you’re probably not going to be able to make be able to prove any bribery charges.

  17. Claudia@Copa2015 says:

    Hello Marcy,

    You probably know of this 2019 online Mada Masr article written by the journalist Nada Arafat:

    In 2019, journalist Arafat traced the IS EG halal contract with the Egyptian government. She may not have known of the Menendez connection but she did trace Antranig Arslanian, the attorney who was one of the two founders of the company in 2017.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Thanks, Claudia, very interesting. One tiny correction, though. The lawyer’s name is Antranig Aslanian. There is no ‘r’ in it. Maybe Nadine added an ‘r’ to her name, Arslanian. Or maybe they are two different names. Hard to tell at this time because of all the suspicious behavior. Glad you shared this

      • SteveBev says:

        “ In 2019, federal investigators executed a search warrant at the New Jersey home and office of Wael Hana, an associate of Arslanian’s who has exclusivity in producing halal meats for Egypt.

        Prosecutors also reportedly subpoenaed a New Jersey attorney, Antranig Aslanian, who is a longtime friend of Arslanian and has represented Hana.

        Mr. Aslanian, who claims to have no idea what federal investigators were looking for when they questioned him, said he has known the Senator’s wife for over 25 years, according to The Journal. He added that the two share a bond since they are both Armenian.”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          An odd statement, because Mr. Aslanian would have had a copy of the search warrant in his hand while the FBI was searching his place. He can’t read or he’s willfully ignorant.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      That’s a dynamite huge piece of information. Wonder if it’s possible to link the wealth transfers with the “sovereign entities” and the gold bars/cash found on Menendez. Obviously the name ‘Aslanian’ cropping up in this piece as well on Menendez’s marriage certificate is intriguing.

  18. WilliamOckham says:

    Maybe the reason the Feds haven’t brought FARA charges against Hana is that they know that Hana wasn’t an agent of the Egyptian government. Instead, maybe he was running a long con against the Egyptians (to get that lucrative Halal certification monopoly). The whole story makes a lot more sense to me if you assume that the Feds had no clue that Menendez was involved until they started looking into how IS EG got that contract.

    The alternative is that Hana was an agent of the Egyptian military before Nadine met cute with Bob. And, in that case, letting Hana arrange a meeting between Bob and an Egyptian military delegation would have been a serious counterintelligence failure by the FBI. And that just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the events.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Hard to believe the Feds just ignored Menendez after their failed first prosecution. They knew the facts and the likelihood, whatever it was, that Menendez would repeat corrupt behavior.

      Perhaps allowing the meeting to take place was to make sure they had facts that prove his corruption beyond a reasonable doubt this time.

      • taluslope says:

        Too much to process:

        1. At first glance I thought, hum, I’ll bet every foreign intelligent service is looking for targets of opportunity like Menendez (could there be a more perfect target, except perhaps for his high profile).
        2. Then no worries, FBI (I guess that is the correct agency) is all over it. They know of intelligence risks and will warn senators and representatives of impending danger.
        3. Then oh no; from WilliamOckham, “serious counterintelligence failure by the FBI.” Will no hero arise to save us from impending doom before the govt. shuts down and the FBI will be off from the case?
        4. Then, saved at last by earlofhuntingdon with FBI just waiting to “prove his corruption beyond a reasonable doubt this time.”

        • taluslope says:

          Re. #1. Surely Menendez would be read in by intelligence agencies and would be too smart to fall for such an obvious trap? I mean please, how stupid do you have to be?

          True story: Years ago at Los Alamos we were told to assume that all email and internet traffic _would_ be monitored by the lab and potentially by other “interested” parties. We had to assume even our window vibrations were being monitored for conversations.

          Then we were called to a special meeting where we were told that porn was not authorized on our computers and would impact our employment status.

          A week of so later we were called to another special meeting where we were told that porn was not …

          And, you guessed it, another couple of weeks pass and we were called to another special meeting. Some people really are that stupid.

          I have in-laws who are really worried about privacy (and if any are reading this I’m not talking about you). I get that but I’ve had to assume that my life is kind of an open book and especially — don’t trust the internet.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            No one has a monopoly on stupid. See, Boebert, Gosar, Gaetz, Greene. And to paraphrase an English wag, if criminals were not stupid, the prisons would be empty.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        If Hana wasn’t on anyone’s counterintelligence radar, even if they were watching Bob, that first meeting wouldn’t have raised any red flags until they saw Hana’s text messages. I mean, Bob has a point when he says a lot of the stuff he did is just the way he does business. Chair of the SFRC taking a meeting with reps of one of our biggest client states isn’t a big deal.

        And if Hana was perceived as an agent of the Egyptian government, Bob would have gotten a defensive briefing, especially since Nadine would have been a known associate of Hana at that point.

        [BTW, I’m going to refer to Senator Menéndez as Bob and his current wife as Nadine, mostly because I’m too lazy to decide whether or not I should use the é that obviously goes there even though Bob seems to given up on it.]

  19. JR_in_Mass says:

    Couple of interesting things, not yet mentioned I think:

    1) Sen. Menendez made influence attempts on DOJ Official 2 (beginning January 2019) and Official 3 (December 2020). That might be the genesis of the investigation. See indictment item 35d, a quote from a voice mail in April 2019, so maybe from a phone tap.
    2) A search warrant was executed at the Menendez home in June 2022. So the Menendez Spouses have known for over a year that they had a problem.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Interesting that the couple didn’t think to tone it down after being searched. Did that 2022 search yield any evidence in the indictment? If so, pulling that string may prove very illuminating indeed.

      What bothers me is the timing of the indictment. If the 2022 search was fruitful, then why didn’t the feebs announce then? It might have saved a seat or two in the Senate for the GOP because in addition to Dobbs the Dems were thrashing the GOP on general corruption. Maybe a really big shoe is about to drop after all of the court reverses Defendant-1 had last week and the burrowers in the SDNY felt the need to blunt the effect by a bothsides play.

      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        It’s my understanding that the 2022 search was when the cash and gold bars were discovered. Why it took more than a year to indict with that kind of evidence is unclear.

  20. obsessed says:

    Does anyone know who lobbies Congress to maintain the Cuban embargo and why? I can’t understand for the life of me understand how anyone in either party benefits from this. I get that there’s a small but highly motivated group right wing Cubans (primarily in FL) who take a Capulet & Montague approach, but their votes and donations are completely locked in for the far right. So if there’s there’s nothing to be gained politically, it must be the economy, right? But who gains economically from the embargo? Many on the right, like Jeff Flake, are passionately in favor of lifting the embargo and it seems like almost every industry would benefit from a strong Cuban economy, right? Menéndez’s rationale for not normalizing relations with Cuba is as silly and hypocritical as anything from the mouths of Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene. What’s the true motivation for Menéndez and his supporters to support continuing the embargo?

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You published this comment as “obessed” which is not “obsessed”; it’s the second time within the week this has happened. I didn’t mention I changed it for you last time, but this time I’m making a point of letting you know. The next iteration of the comment system won’t clear them the way my partner has been (*side eyeing bmaz*). /~Rayne]

  21. Rugger_9 says:

    OT: Writers have a tentative deal. However, for me it is kind of useless unless SAG-ATRA takes care of their middle-class brethren as well. It’s a package.

  22. Martin Heldt says:

    Why SDNY? Sellinger is tainted by his improper actions with Menendez. He was approached by a US Senatoroffering a job with the understanding he was to go easy on a criminal defendant.

    The first line of Paragraph 45 is galling: “Official-3 and Official-4 did not pass on to the prosecution team the fact that ROBERT MENENDEZ, the defendant, had contacted them as described in the above paragraphs”

    To me, this was strike two. Sellinger already knew from his earlier meetings that the Daibes case was why Menendez was backing him. I like baseball, but one strike should be enough when the position is US Attorney. Sellinger’s original willingness is more than reason enough to dismiss him.

    And Sellinger should have been very suspicious. It isn’t like Menendez was a pristine flower. Sellinger was quite active in the local Democratic Party. He was a local, and he would have had insight into the rampant (OMG level) countywide corruption.

    • SteveBev says:

      Speaking entirely as a foreigner observing and attempting to understand the situation, don’t you think you might have this all the wrong way round?

      Official-3 was properly recused, because of issues surrounding Menendez attempt to exert influence (on behalf of the defendant) regarding his candidacy, which candidacy Melendez ultimately did not support. On recusal Official -4 took his place. When Menendez sought to influence Offiical -4 in a similar way, both officials, properly did not allow the information to go to the team prosecuting the defendant- so his case was not affected either positively or adversely by it.

      Instead the two officials are both now witnesses in proceedings against the defendant and Menendez, founded in part on the attempts to exert improper influence on them in respect of the earlier proceedings in which the defendant was prosecuted.

      How is this in any way suggestive of impropriety on the part of either?

      I don’t know enough to say whether their proper actions and now status as witnesses means that specific protocols demands that a separate US Attorney’s Office should handle the prosecution, but it seems entirely reasonable that it’s a matter of principle , to avoid any appearance of any conflict in how this present prosecution is handled by prosecution authorities going forward, the prosecutors should be wholly independent of officials 3 and 4 without in any way implying their actions were improper, indeed they are being called upon to be witnesses of truth, who no doubt made contemporaries records of all matters relevant to their testimony.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That these prosecutors are potential witnesses is an important point. No lawyer can handle a case in which he or she can expect to be called as a witness.

        • SteveBev says:

          Indeed. It is an absolutely cardinal principle in practically every civilised jurisdiction.

          Moreover, if being called as a witness it is on the basis that they are proffering what the party has a good faith belief is truthful testimony on relevant matters.

    • Martin Heldt says:

      The indictment makes it clear that the US Attorney candidates were aware of Menendez’ push to protect Daibes.

      >According to the indictment, Menendez initially rejected Sellinger as a candidate after their December 2020 job interview because the lawyer told him he would likely have to recuse himself from any case involving Daibes due to a previous matter in which he represented the developer.

      >But after another candidate fell through, Menendez ultimately recommended him for the job.

      >After Sellinger was sworn in, the Department of Justice had him step aside from the Daibes prosecution and hand responsibility for it to another senior prosecutor. Menendez, according to the indictment, then badgered both Sellinger and the prosecutor who had been put in charge of Daibes case, calling them several times.

      >Menendez also asked one of his political advisors to let Sellinger know he was upset with the way the Daibes case was being handled, according to the indictment.

      I like to go directly to the indictment.

      >4. …”By virtue of his position as the senior U.S. Senator from
      the State of New Jersey, at all times relevant to this Indictment, MENENDEZ had the ability to
      recommend to the President that a particular individual be nominated to serve as the U.S. “Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

      The indictment mentions Menendez’ belief that he had influence over then U.S. A. candidate Sellinger.

      >38. From at least in or about December 2020 to at least in or about early 2022,
      ROBERT MENENDEZ, the defendant, agreed to attempt to influence and attempted to influence the pending federal prosecution of FRED DAIBES, the defendant, in exchange for cash, furniture, and gold bars that DAIBES provided to MENENDEZ and NADINE MENENDEZ,
      a/k/a “Nadine Arslanian,” the defendant, including by recommending that the President nominate a candidate for U.S Attorney for the District of New Jersey who MENENDEZ believed could be influenced by MENENDEZ with respect to DAIBES’s case, and by attempting to influence the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey to act favorably in DAIBES’s case.

      At the first meeting between Melendez and Sellinger, the senator brought up the Daibes case and that he was upset with the prosecution of Daibes. Sellinger told Menendez that he would have to recuse in that case because he had represented Daibes in a private action. Upon hearing this, Menendez informed Candidate-3 that he’d choose another candidate.

      >39. …MENENDEZ subsequently informed the Candidate that MENENDEZ would not put forward the candidate’s name to the White House for a recommendation to be nominated by the President for the position of U.S. Attorney. MENENDEZ also told the Candidate that MENENDEZ would be recommending a different individual for the position.

      At this point Menendez reached out to Esther Suarez, for the role.
      40. Instead of the Candidate, ROBERT MENENDEZ, the defendant, recommended a
      different individual for U.S. Attorney. FRED DAIBES, the defendant, believed that different
      individual would likely be sympathetic to him. In or about the spring of 2021, a series of news
      reports critical of the other individual were published.

      Suarez withdrew her name after the negative stories appeared. Menendez then had an “advisor” inform Sellinger that they did not believe he would need to recuse from the Daibes case.

      >41. During that time period, in or about the spring of 2021, an individual (the
      “Advisor”) associated with ROBERT MENENDEZ, the defendant, spoke to the Candidate and
      discussed, among other things, the possibility of the Candidate recusing from the prosecution of FRED DAIBES, the defendant. Subsequently, the Advisor informed MENENDEZ that the
      Advisor believed that the Candidate would likely not have to recuse from the prosecution of

      After this the “Advisor” texted Menendez “I think if you call [the
      Candidate], you’ll be comfortable with what he says.” (41.)

      After being sworn in, the DOJ ordered Sellinger to recuse himself from the case. Menendez then attempted to influence Sellinger’s subordinate who was now in charge of the Daibes case.

      >44. b. On or about January 21, 2022, MENENDEZ called Official-3 and asked
      the identity of Official-3’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney (“Official-4”). As a result of Official3’s recusal, Official-4 had supervisory responsibility over the prosecution of DAIBES.

      The move to indict in SDNY makes sense, as Menendez, at least, believed he had an understanding with the US Attorney and had been in contact with Sellinger’s subordinate:

      >44. e. On or about January 31, 2022, MENENDEZ again called Official-4, in a
      call lasting for approximately one minute and 24 seconds. Within minutes of the end of his call
      with Official-4, MENENDEZ called DAIBES.
      f. Between approximately in or about December 2021 and February 2022,
      MENENDEZ directed the Advisor to ask Official-3, who was at the time the U.S. Attorney for
      the District of New Jersey, why he had recused himself from the prosecution of DAIBES, when
      MENENDEZ had previously believed that he would not recuse himself.

      • SteveBev says:

        To my mind your lengthy quotation from the indictment still doesn’t justify your initial imputation

        “Sellinger is tainted by his improper actions with Menendez.”

        I note that in your in the quotation from the indictment you chose not to quote , but inaccurately précis this paragraph omitting the clause I now emphasise

        44. Shortly after the swearing in,
        •••on the basis of information that Official-3 provided to the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether a recusal was warranted, ••••
        Official-3 was informed that Official-3 was recused from the prosecution of FRED DAIBES, the defendant. Official-3 and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey implemented that recusal. After Official-3 became the U.S. Attorney, the following events took place, among others:

        The fact remains the Government are calling Officials3 and 4, and so believe they will testify truthfully and persuasively on matters adverse to Menendez, and the evidence will survive cross examination and attempts to impeach the good faith of the witnesses.

  23. Savage Librarian says:

    Nadine still is known by her birth name in some circles. That makes it easier to track some of the network of her connections, i.e. family and associates:


    “Archbishop Anoushavan invited Mr. Menendez’s wife, Lebanon-born Mrs. Nadine Tabourian, to address the audience in Armenian, which she did, enlivening the evening with her charm and wit.”

  24. Sue 'em Queequeg says:

    This is what gets me about the gold ingots: It’s dumb enough to google the value after you’ve received them. But it seems even dumber, if you knew you were going to receive them, not to google *before* so you’d know how much value you were actually getting. And if you didn’t know you were going to receive gold ingots (and why that might be is a whole other question), it would mean you were accepting payment of some kind without actually knowing how much you were receiving, which frankly seems dumbest of all — never mind how US official business is generally conducted. Unless you only cared in a very broad sense that it was some sort of substantial sum.

Comments are closed.