A shadow of suspicion has once again risen above New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who some years ago was cleared of federal corruption allegations.
The senator and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, are the target of investigators this time, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal reports that authorities are examining “whether his wife received gifts or services from individuals who sought favors from the New Jersey politician,” citing “people familiar with the matter.”
Last month, the website Semafor claimed that an inquiry involving Menendez was ongoing, but did not provide any specifics.
During that time, Menendez aide Michael Soliman responded to a question from Politico.
“Senator Menendez is aware of an investigation that was reported on today. However, he does not know the scope of the investigation,” he said. “As always, should any official inquiries be made, the Senator is available to provide any assistance that is requested of him or his office.”
The inquiry is being handled by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.
According to the article, subpoenas were sent to Arslanian’s colleagues, but the focus was on the senator and his wife.
According to a story in The Journal, it is unclear what information prosecutors are seeking.
According to the study, there was no relation to the 2015 public corruption case that resulted in a mistrial and the dismissal of charges against Senator Menendez.
According to the article, which cites unnamed sources, the probe dates back to at least 2019, when search warrants were executed at the home and office of Wael Hana, an acquaintance of Arslanian who transported halal meat to Egypt through his firm, IS EG Halal.
A lawyer’s court filings in 2020 revealed that the probe was examining the possibility of hidden foreign lobbying and other potential breaches of federal law.
Antranig Aslanian, a lawyer from New Jersey who has represented Hana and is a friend of Arslanian, stated that when he was questioned, he informed authorities that he had known Arslanian for 25 years and that they shared Armenian background.
“If she was somewhere and I saw her, I’d say, ‘Hey, would you like a drink?’” he said. “I said to the U.S. attorney, ‘Is there something wrong with that? If I saw you out, I’d offer you a drink.’”
Aslanian stated that he was unaware of the prosecution’s strategy.
According to CNN, Menendez was accused in 2015 with collecting around $1 million in gifts from affluent Florida ophthalmologist Dr. Salomon Melgen in exchange for favors rendered by Menendez. In 2017, following an 11-week trial, the jury was deadlocked. In 2018, the Department of Justice officially withdrew its prosecution against Menendez.
According to The Washington Post, Menendez was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee later that year.
“Your assistance to Dr. Melgen under these circumstances demonstrated poor judgment, and it risked undermining the public’s confidence in the Senate,” a letter chastising Menendez said. “As such, your actions reflected discredit upon the Senate.”