New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez on Wednesday acknowledged the existence of an ongoing federal investigation against him, more than four years after the government dropped a different corruption case.
Two people familiar with the matter tell NBC News that Menendez is under criminal investigation by the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. Semafor first reported the news early Wednesday, saying the government was investigating the senator in a probe along the same lines as the last case, but involving different people. The news site also reported that prosecutors have already issued at least one subpoena.
“Senator Menendez is aware of an investigation that was reported on today, however he does not know the scope of the investigation. As always, should any official inquiries be made, the Senator is available to provide any assistance that is requested of him or his office,” Menendez advisor Michael Soliman said in a statement.
A spokesman for the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
Menendez was a political prodigy who first won a school board seat at 20 years old. He was subsequently elected mayor of Union City, to the state Assembly and Senate, and later to the US House of Representatives, where he spent more than a decade. In 2006 he was appointed to the US Senate after Jon Corzine resigned to become governor. He was elected to a full term later that year, and re-elected in 2012 and 2018.
In 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Menendez on bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges, alleging that he had accepted gifts from a Florida doctor, Salomon Melgen, in exchange for using his office to benefit that doctor’s interests.
His 2017 trial ended in a hung juryand in early 2018 the government opted not to retry him after a judge threw out some of the counts in the indictment. (One of the jurors later told reporters that 10 of the 12 jurors wanted to acquit the senator on all the counts against him.)
Shortly after the government dropped its case, the Senate Ethics Committee “severely admonished” Menendez, said he had broken the body’s rules and ordered him to repay gifts he’d received.
The scandal did little to dent his popularity, though, or his family name – he won re-election in 2018, regained the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his son Rob is currently running for Congress in New Jersey’s 8th District, a race the younger Menendez is expected to win easily.
(Disclosure: Sen. Menendez’s daughter Alicia Menendez is an anchor on MSNBC, which like NBC New York is a unit of NBCUniversal.)