“Piker:” Donald Trump Rants as if Robert Menendez’s 22 Ounces of Gold Were as Big as Jared’s $2 Billion

The former President went on one of his classic rants of projection last night, demanding that every Democratic Senator resign because of the alleged corruption of Robert Menendez.

“They all knew what was going on,” Trump said, “and the way [Menendez] lived.”

All Trump’s rants are, at their core, at least partly an attempt to use projection to cast attention away from his own similar or worse corruption.

This one is a doozy, though.

Start with the fact that Trump was suspected of getting $10 million from Egypt in September 2016, money he used to stay in the Presidential race. That suspected bribe was investigated for several years, with the Egyptian state-owned bank suspected of making the payment fighting a subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court. The investigation was then closed in summer 2020, without ever subpoenaing Trump Organization, during a period when Bill Barr was shutting down all Mueller-related investigations of Trump. The allegation that, like Menendez, Trump was on the take from Egypt — a key prong of the Mueller investigation — has been ignored by most outlets, so I may return to describe what we know of it.

Then consider that Trump told a comedian posing as Menendez, John Melenedez, that he believed Menendez had gotten a raw deal in his corruption prosecution. “Congratulations on everything,” Trump told the guy he thought was Menendez not long after DOJ dropped the first bribery prosecution. “We’re proud of you. Congratulations! Great job! You went through a tough, tough situation, and I don’t think a very fair situation. But congratulations!”

“They all knew what was going on, and the way [Menendez] lived,” Trump wailed. But so did Trump when he congratulated someone he thought was Menendez for getting away with accepting alleged bribes.

In fact, Trump even commuted the separate Medicare fraud sentence of Menendez’ first co-defendant, Salomon Melgen (like Menendez, the jury hung on bribery charges against Melgen). When Trump claims that Senate Democrats knew what was going on? Unlike Senate Democrats, Trump reviewed Melgen’s conduct closely enough to save him from most of a 204-month prison sentence. Trump specifically said that “the ends of justice do not require [Melgen] to remain confined until his currently projected release date of August 2, 2031.” There’s no question Trump doesn’t care about Menendez’ corruption because he used his presidential authority to eliminate most punishment against Menendez’ co-defendant.

Finally, the craziest part of Trump’s attempt to project his own corruption on Democrats: a key allegation in the Menendez indictment alleges that Menendez did exactly what Jared Kushner did, only for a tiny fraction of the payoff that Jared got.

As I noted in this post, most of Menendez’ Egypt-related corruption came before he and Nadine were married, and most of the payment was laundered through Wael Hana’s halal company, at which Nadine had a no-work job. That may make it hard to prove was a quid pro quo.

There’s one glaring exception to that: The 22 one-ounce bars of gold that, the indictment suggests, Menendez and Nadine received days after Menendez helped shield Egypt from repercussions tied to their role in the Jamal Khashoggi execution.

As the indictment explains, after Nadine’s relationship with Egyptian Official-4 had blossomed over time, the two of them set up a meeting between Menendez and a senior Egyptian intelligence official on June 21, 2021, before the same official would meet with other Senators.

On or about June 21, 2021, NADINE MENENDEZ and Egyptian Official-4 organized a private meeting between MENENDEZ and a senior Egyptian intelligence official (“Egyptian Official-5”) in a hotel in Washington, D.C. prior to a meeting between Egyptian Official-5 and other U.S. Senators the next day. On the day of the private meeting, MENENDEZ provided NADINE MENENDEZ with a copy of a news article reporting on questions that other U.S. Senators intended to ask Egyptian Official-5 regarding a human rights issue. NADINE MENENDEZ then sent that article to Egyptian Official-4, who responded, “Thanks you so much, chairman [i.e., MENENDEZ, the Chairman of the SFRC] also raised it today, we appreciate it.” The next day, NADINE MENENDEZ texted Egyptian Official-4 that she hoped the article she had sent was helpful, and stated, “I just thought it would be better to know ahead of time what is being talked about and this way you can prepare your rebuttals.”

A Michael Isiskoff story posted the same day explained what Egypt would need to “rebut:” Egypt’s Intelligence head, Abbas Kamel, was set to be grilled about Egypt’s role — providing training and drugs — in the execution of Jamal Khashoggi.

A just-released Yahoo News “Conspiracyland” podcast series about Khashoggi’s murder [] revealed that the Gulfstream jet carrying a so-called Tiger Team of Saudi assassins to Istanbul made a middle-of-the-night stopover in Cairo for the purpose of picking up a lethal dose of undetermined “illegal” narcotics.

The drugs were injected hours later by a Saudi Ministry of Interior doctor into Khashoggi’s left arm inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul — an operation that the CIA has concluded was authorized by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often known as MBS.

Abbas Kamel, the chief of Egyptian intelligence, is visiting Washington this week to meet with U.S. intelligence officials as well as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Staffers told Yahoo News that a number of senators are preparing to ask Kamel about the Cairo stopover — the subject of a Washington Post editorial on Sunday — and whether Egyptian intelligence officials delivered or helped facilitate the delivery of the drugs.


There is also evidence that Egyptian intelligence may have provided training for the Tiger Team as well as previous support for Saudi abductions ordered by MBS. A Saudi source familiar with the matter told Yahoo News that the Egyptians assisted the Tiger Team with the 2015 abduction from Italy of Saudi Prince Saud bin Saif al-Nasr. An outspoken foe of MBS, the prince was tricked into boarding a plane he thought was flying to Rome but ended up in Riyadh. He has not been heard from since.

The indictment implies that whatever Menendez did to blunt the accusations of his fellow Senators, it had some tie to the 22 ounces of gold that Hana purchased two days later, at least some bars of which were found at the Menendez residence when it was searched a year later.

On or about June 23, 2021—i.e., two days after the private meeting between MENENDEZ and Egyptian Official-5—HANA purchased 22 one-ounce gold bars, each with a unique serial number. Two of these one-ounce gold bars were subsequently found during the court-authorized search in June 2022 of the residence of MENENDEZ and NADINE MENENDEZ. During the relevant time periods, the spot market price of gold was approximately $1,800 per ounce.

In his rant, Trump accused Menendez of being “piker” compared to others, but he got the comparison wrong.

After all, Menendez sold out cheap. If he received all 22 of those gold bars in 2021 in recognition of having laundered the reputation of Egypt, it would have been worth roughly $40,000.

That’s a miniscule amount compared to what Jared got — $2 billion — for whitewashing Saudi’s role in the Khashoggi execution.

Trump, who knows better than Senate Democrats what was going on, is right: Menendez was a piker. But he was a piker when you measure him against the corruption of Trump’s own son-in-law.

91 replies
  1. scroogemcduck says:

    Trump: “Democrats are corrupt and that is terrible and they should all resign.”
    Also Trump: “It’s no big deal that I am corrupt because other people are possibly corrupt too.”

    It will be interesting if the Menendez case reaches the Supreme Court. Thomas has already signalled that he would strike the “honest services fraud” statute (Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; count #2 in the indictment) as too vague. We can but speculate whether he would benefit personally from the Court reaching that particular finding. Gorsuch also appears to be fully board.

  2. Capemaydave says:

    I’ve dealt in Gold.

    The 2 gold bars depicted in the indictment are Kilo bars, 35.27 oz per.

    ID# on non custodial held gold can be problematic in court cases. Lots of smelters and presses around.

    • Discontinued Barbie says:

      So did the indictment get it wrong calling them 22 ONE ounce bars? Implying the math is 22 ounces total?

      It doesn’t surprise me that authorities misrepresent amounts to their own benefit, or to enhance charges. But it does surprise me that they would under estimate the amounts.
      Bribery for $1,396,692, sounds more justified than $40k, but still a penitence compared to $2B.

      • bmaz says:

        All this is an interesting sideshow, but is fairly irrelevant at this point. The indictment is sufficient, what it means is what is adduced in court.

      • Capemaydave says:

        Maybe there are also 22 oz bars (which tend to be finely minted and in plastic) hanging around. I don’t know.

        If they meant 22 Kilos that would make more sense to me, or if the intent of the reference email was to downplay the amount of Gold being transacted and the prosecution intends to bring that forth in court – “these aren’t ounces, but kilos.”

        Anyway IANAL but I am a gold dealer.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Cynical, even by the standards of prosecutors. Menendez might be as penitent as Trump, owing only to being caught allegedly criming, but none of this has the value of a pittance. They’re still felonies. If convicted, Bob would be wearing an orange jump suit.

    • SteveBev says:

      Indictment mentions gold provided by HANA or DIABES in various places

      The searchable format of indictment here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/23990162-230922-menendez-indictment has 17 mentions of “gold”

      Here are some specifics

      Para 3 photo 2x 1kg bars from Diabes

      Page 17
      two days after the private meeting between MENENDEZ and Egyptian Official-5—HANA purchased 22 one-ounce gold bars, each with a unique serial number. Two of these one-ounce gold bars were subsequently found during the court-authorized search in June 2022 of the residence of MENENDEZ and NADINE MENENDEZ. During the relevant time periods, the spot market price of gold was approximately $1,800 per ounce.

      Page 32
      As noted above, in or about June 2022, a court-authorized search of the residence of ROBERT MENENDEZ and NADINE MENENDEZ, a/k/a “Nadine Arslanian,” the defendants, revealed, among other things, approximately two one-kilogram gold bars and nine one-ounce gold bars that had serial numbers indicating they had previously been possessed by FRED DAIBES, the defendant.

    • emptywheel says:

      There are two sets of gold bars.

      22 one-ounce gold bars that Hana bought on 9/23/21, of which 11 were found in last year’s search.

      4 1-KG gold bars from Daibes, of which two were sold in March 2022, with the remaining 2 found in the search.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        You did the same thing I did at first, flipped the 6 for a 9 in my head, probably because I was thinking of September, our current month. But I think you mean 6/23/21 for Hana’s purchase.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As a few commentators have observed, gold and other precious metals are sold by the Troy ounce, which weighs just over 1.2x the normal American ounce. Refined and packaged in branded products, the gold content is typically 24 karat, or 99.99% gold.

  3. Rugger_9 says:

    OT: Never thought I’d say this but Chuck Todd is already missed over at MTP. K. Welker is doing even more than Chuckles would to pillory Joe Biden for being a father. As evidence she cites the 20 calls Joe sat in on, smarmily insinuating that the pleasantries were code for something more despite several other witnesses including Comer’s star witness Devon Archer saying exactly that. Where is Welker’s proof?

    It would appear our network executives are doing everything they can to manufacture a horse race, not understanding that the six trials (4 criminal, 2 civil) starting over the next year will provide more than enough content for the airwaves including plot twists.

      • SteveBev says:

        And the relevant portion of the transcript makes it abundantly clear that there’s nothing “coded” about the pleasantries

        Here is how that portion of the transcript read:

        Question: “So is it fair to say that these conversations that my Republican colleagues asked you about where Hunter Biden had Joe Biden on the phone around business partners, that there was nothing in those conversations beyond the exchange of pleasantries?”

        Archer: “That is correct.”

        Question: “And we talked earlier about, kind of, Hunter Biden liking to project this image, this illusion, of access to his father.”

        Archer: “Uh-huh.”

        Question: “Was this just part of his effort to say, ‘Hey, I’m Joe Biden’s son, and I talk to Joe Biden a lot?’”

        Archer’s attorney Matthew Schwartz: “If you know. I mean, don’t speculate about what –”

        Archer: “Right. I don’t want to speculate about what he was thinking. But I think it’s just, you know, just common sense and, you know, that it’s the brand and that’s the value and — yeah. I don’t –”

        Question: “But it was just about –”

        Archer: “It was about projecting who he was.”

        Lawyers for the committee then questioned if Hunter Biden ever asked his father to take official actions on behalf of his business partners.

        Question: “But, in fact, Hunter Biden — Joe Biden never helped out Joe Biden’s — sorry. Scratch that. In fact, Hunter Biden never asked his father to take official actions on behalf of his business partners?”

        Archer: “He did not. He did not ask him — to my knowledge, I never saw him say, do anything for any particular business.”

        Question: “And you’re not aware of Joe Biden ever doing anything to help his son’s business partners?”

        Archer: “No. I think that the calls were — that’s what it was. They were calls to talk about the weather, and that was signal enough to be powerful.”

        Question: “So this, again, was about projecting this illusion of access to his father. Is that right?”

        Archer: “Correct.”


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Welker seems to be struggling with the storylines her producers want. Whether she’s all-in with them is so far unproven. But I would never want Chuck Todd back.

  4. Sherrie H says:

    “They all knew what was going on,” Trump said, “and the way [Menendez] lived.”

    If it was so very obvious and began while Trump was in office and McConnell was in charge of the Senate, why should only Senate Dems resign?

  5. Datnotdat says:

    If we posit that it was worth 2 billion dollars to MBS to have help deflecting opprobrium about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, what might it have been worth to MBS to know, prior to his coup, who amongst the royal family were not willing to acquiesce to his assuming maximum control?

    • RipNoLonger says:

      It seems logical that there were sources from the friendlies that may have communicated with MbS. And visa-versa, of course.

  6. bloopie2 says:

    If I want to learn about what types of political actions are “corrupt”; what types are “criminal”; and what types are just ordinary, let-it-go, steps on the road to riches that politicians have traveled for ages; where can I study up on this? Perhaps generally, but more for current US law. Thanks.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      That would be a fascinating chart, changing day by day, person and organization. I’m sure some IC types keep something like this up to date, along with a lot of connecting information.

    • bidrec-gap says:

      Try “City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York” by Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett. It features some of the same characters at a time when Rudy Giuliani was referred to as a “sea-green incorruptible” by Murray Kempton. You have to start somewhere and this zips right along.

        • bidrec-gap says:

          Also, if you have access to a university library check out Steven Brill’s “American Lawyer”. He discusses one-offs that are not exactly illegal and their consequences like building an office tower too tall and then having to connect the 51st Street 4,5,6 subway station with the 53rd E,F station as penance. In exchange for not removing the excess floors.

  7. HGillette says:

    “After all, Menendez sold out cheap. If he received all 22 of those gold bars in 2021 in recognition of having laundered the reputation of Egypt, it would have been worth roughly $40,000.

    That’s a miniscule amount compared to what Jared got — $2 billion — for whitewashing Saudi’s role in the Khashoggi execution.”

    Except Jared did not get $2 billion, at least in the sense that this statement implies.

    The Saudis asked Jared to invest $2 billion for them, so they still remain ownership of the $2 billion.


    I know this is a lot more unwieldy to say than “Jared got $2 billion from the Saudis”, but that statement is just not accurate.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Exactly. When you give $2.0 billion to a guy who’s only made one large investment in his life – a Manhattan tower that was worth a fraction of what he paid for it – and who has never run a large hedge or investment fund, you do not expect to make money or to get back all of your original principal. (Buying shares in an index fund would be a much better investment.)

        You’re giving Jared money to play with and to make a lot in investment outcome-irrelevant fees. You’re setting up a relationship, an excuse to maintain a semi-permanent communications channel, and rewarding someone for their prior acts.

        • bidrec-gap says:

          Well, the bar is low. Triple Six Fifth was originally The Tishman Building. Jerry Speyer who is Tishman’s son-in-law and Rob Speyer who is Tishman’s grandson lost a fortune on Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, “The deal made no sense from Day 1. Tishman Speyer and BlackRock Realty Advisors lost the property to lenders three years later when they ran out of money. Their investors and lenders, including pension funds, the Church of England and the government of Singapore, lost more than $2 billion. “

    • WilliamOckham says:

      Well, even if you just compare the $40,000 to the $25 million that Jared skimmed off the top of that $2 billion, it still makes Bob look like a piker.

      On the other hand, saying that Saudis remain in ownership of that $2 billion is at least as inaccurate as saying Jared got all of it. They are certainly not guaranteed to get that much back.

    • theGeoguy says:

      I would say he got $2 billion to “manage.” If Jared gets the standard hedge fund or private equity vig of 2 & 20, that’s about $40 million a year even if the investment stays flat.

    • SamForJustice says:

      I’m not a fan of Menendez or Trump, or for that matter Prosecutors.

      I note that only a few of the commenters picked up on the fact that one search was over a year ago. From what I read the indictment does not explicitly charge bribery.

      Jared got his payday after he left govt. Big difference. Hunter from what I saw got his while Joe was VP and continued after.

      If the case or prosecutors are so great what was the delay for?

      Biden was holding it over Menendez for a year to squeeze him.

      • SteveBev says:

        “ Biden was holding it over Menendez for a year to squeeze him.”

        I’d be most interested in seeing the foundational evidence for these claims. Do you have a link?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Not so different. Jared “received” his payday after he left office; what he did for it he did while a USG employee.

        Not every element in a comment is worth commenting on.

        A little proof of your defamatory claim about Biden “holding it over Menendez for a year to squeeze him,” would be helpful. Otherwise, it’s poppycock.

      • emptywheel says:

        Really interested in your basis for this claim.

        Hunter from what I saw got his while Joe was VP and continued after.

        For all the attention on him, no one has claimed he had illegal work.

      • bmaz says:

        Oh Sam, had to bounce your last attempt at commenting, because it was Jim Jordan bullshit. Do not think you can do that here.

        • SamForJustice says:

          The link had Hunter’s timeline predating Trump, Ie Joe was VP.

          The comparison of Menendez’s wife Ro Hunter is not exact but interesting.

          Menendez’s wife should have registered as a foreign agent, reported all the money and paid tax on it let’s see if she did any of that. The indictment is conspiracy to bribe except for the interference with prosecution.

          There is no good reason I see to wait over a year after the search so I stand by what appears to me as a bad reason to delay it.

          If they have him doing favors for money bring it. If they have Jared, bring it.

          • SteveBev says:

            “There is no good reason I see to wait over a year after the search so I stand by what appears to me as a bad reason to delay it.”

            That looks like
            “I don’t understand what might be involved in progressing a criminal investigation into a public corruption case after a search and seizure has taken place,
            So in the absence of knowledge or evidence I am free to conjure wild ass conjecture which seem plausible to me because it sort of fits in with other stuff I ruminate about”
            Thanks for clarifying.

            • SamForJustice says:

              Sorry, it’s the Prosecutor who has to explain EVERYTHING not me. As a result of delayed prosecution the people of NJ have had to suffer possibly a corrupt senator. Justice delayed for the public is a valid criticism as is letting a SoL run.

  8. simon says:

    Where’s the regular ‘Judge Cannon doing a really swell job’ update?

    Any admission of how waay off base you were?

    • ButteredToast says:

      I don’t recall Dr. Wheeler ever saying that Judge Cannon was “doing a really swell job” or anything of the sort, merely noting which of Cannon’s orders were routine. In fact, Marcy has been critical of Cannon where it’s justified. For example:

      • 2Cats2Furious says:

        I agree that Marcy has been remarkably clear-eyed about Cannon, as she usually is.

        I actually popped in here tonight to see if she posted about Cannon’s latest order on Monday 9/25, FINALY setting the DOJ’s Garcia motion re: potential conflicts with counsel for Nauta and De Oliveira for hearing on October 12. I haven’t seen any news coverage of this development yet, but saw the paperless order on the docket.

    • bmaz says:

      I have no idea what you are yammering about. When Cannon has done routine things acceptably, we say so, when she does not, we say that too. Your BS question has nothing to do with this post. Also, too, please tell us about your deep and lifelong experience with federal judges, especially on criminal cases. Just a wager, but I bet you have none.

      • Simon says:

        I know it was waay off-topic but, as there’s no relevant article I can’t post one on-topic.

        Marcy posted several articles about how Judge Cannon was at times (just like a broken clock) making reasonable decisions but, ever since that has not been the case where are these follow-ups you speak of?

        I have no lifelong experience with Federal Judges, that’s why I come to the site – but if people can’t admit when they get it wrong what does their experience matter at all?

        – and I’ve read a lot of your comments bmaz and none of them enlightened me, if you’re not a teenager anymore you sure act like one on the internet.

        Don’t worry though, this is your little club so I’m sure someone will be along in a minute to tell you how awfully clever you are.

  9. jdmckay8 says:

    Your post Titles last couple days started off my day w/a great, deep belly laugh. “(…)MENENDEZ BRIBERY SERIES” absolutely captured my sentiment on this series. /s

    I think you unfairly shorted Jared $1.2b for the Quatar investment. Seems I also recall 2 or 3 other ME big-oil-producing nations invested a paltry 2 or $300m since Joe’s been President (Kind’a makes me wonder if Jared has them on auto-pay these days).

  10. Seashell says:

    Off topic. Today was the day Judge Chutkin had set for Trump’s J6 lawyers to reply to MOTION to Ensure that Extrajudicial Statements Do Not Prejudice these Proceedings by USA. There is so far nothing on the docket from them. Is this normal?

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, I remember days when it was so close our runner could not get there before 5pm, and I had to drive 90mph to get in the door. Were only a couple of those, but we never missed it.

          • Seashell says:

            And you still can! Under Rule 6. (B) for filing by other means, when the clerk’s office is scheduled to close.

          • P’villain says:

            Once the partner ordered me to write about 30 pages in opposition to a motion to dismiss, so confident was he that our request to exceed page limits would be granted.

            It wasn’t, and we finished cutting the brief to 15 pages so late we had to motorcycle the envelope to the airport thence to SoCal, thence to the Riverside courthouse before the window closed at 5:00.

            No heads rolled – the partner owned his mistake – but it was the most stressful and expensive trial brief I ever wrote.

  11. sunflore says:

    Friends and commentators… Are you contributing, yet, to this blog? If not, please do…We need sites like this and the folks writing and moderating and slapping us upside the head need to eat.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bob Menendez today called himself “old fashioned” for preferring to use cash: he’s even withdrawn thousands of dollars worth from his savings account over the years.

    I prefer to use cash too, but I tend not to keep half a million dollars of it at home at one time. It’s hard to keep track of, and sometimes goes in the wash with my leisure suits.

    That smarmy take is not going to serve Sen. Bob very well. It’s virtually an admission of wrongdoing.

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