After nearly a year of anticipation, the most shocking thing about the federal indictment against Sen. Robert Menendez dropped Friday is how clumsy it makes the senator and his co-conspirators look.
According to the indictment, the Democrat, his wife and their alleged accomplices left fingerprints – literal, digital and figurative – throughout the alleged plot to accept bribes in exchange for local, national and international favors. So far, Menendez and two of the other defendants have denied wrongdoing.
So far, no one has disputed US Attorney Damian Williams’ statement. And if this evidence is true, it seems to indicate that Menendez is not only a fraud, but an incredibly bad one.
Here you will find a summary of the most ridiculous anecdotes from the criminal complaint.
There are envelopes all over Williams’ indictment, just as they were allegedly all over Menendez’s home when the FBI visited last summer. Among other things, officers reported finding them in the pockets of two jackets with the senator’s name sewn onto them – one of which appeared to be a Congressional Hispanic Caucus windbreaker.
The FBI agents said they found the fingerprints and DNA of alleged co-conspirator Fred Daibes and his chauffeur on the envelopes themselves – and Daibes’ return address on one of them.
The total value of cash on the premises was nearly $500,000. And that without getting into the Mercedes convertible that was supposedly a gift in the garage, or…
The gold bars
The FBI also reported recovering more than $100,000 in gold bars of varying sizes from the Menendez residence. What’s special about gold bars is that they have unique serial numbers on them, and the indictment says those numbers allowed them to trace 11 of the bars in the house to Daibes and two others to Wael Hana, the Egyptian-American businessman behind the mysterious IS exporter E.g. Halal.
The Google searches
It’s unclear whether the FBI agents obtained the information from Menendez’s Internet service provider or whether he simply didn’t clear his browser history, but shortly after receiving one of the alleged shipments of gold bars, the indictment says the senator had “a kilo “Gold price” googled.”
It’s not the only time he’s allegedly left a trail on the internet. Elsewhere, the complaint alleges that Menendez conducted a Google search for the state agency in whose investigation of an employee and relative of co-defendant Jose Uribe he allegedly attempted to interfere.
Perhaps in this day and age, it’s too much to suggest that someone not photograph every waking moment of their life. But you may want to crop at least some of your recordings.
The Menendez couple, Uribe and an aide had someone photograph them at a “celebratory dinner” shortly after the senator advocated for resolution of some of Uribe’s legal problems.
The couple also had their photo taken during a private dinner at the home of an Egyptian intelligence official allegedly involved in one of the bribery schemes, while federal authorities said they found a picture of two gold bars on the senator’s husband’s phone – with the serial numbers connecting them with Daibes are clearly visible.
The text messages
The only thing more irritating than a constantly texting partner is someone who can’t stop texting about a criminal conspiracy you’re involved in – thus gathering a ton of evidence for investigators.
But that’s exactly what the senator’s wife allegedly did. And despite their alleged efforts to delete the texts, the Justice Department has secured some doozies. For example, she once allegedly texted Daibes to complain that Hana hadn’t paid her, to which the businessman replied, “Nadine, I personally gave Bob a check for September.”
While waiting for Hana to pay, she texted her husband: “I’m sooooo upset,” adding: “I thought Fred [DAIBES] I would make sure it was there, and for the second day in a row there was nothing.” She eventually received $30,000 from IS EG Halal, the indictment says.
Nadine Menendez also didn’t stop texting her fellow Americans. She allegedly wrote to the Egyptian intelligence official: “Whenever you need anything, you have my number and we will make sure everything is possible.”
She also left a text message recording of Uribe’s supposed takeover of her Mercedes, texting Hana: “I’m so excited to get a car next week. !!” and wrote to her husband: “Congratulations, mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes.” Uribe wrote to her: “Are you happy?”, to which she replied: “I will never forget that .”
And several times she responded to Daibe’s alleged bribes with “Christmas in January” and “THANK YOU Fred” with a series of emojis. She also texted the businessman who was charged with bank fraud that her husband was sleeping better because Daibes’ trial date was temporarily postponed – after the senator allegedly repeatedly intervened on his behalf with the Justice Department.
“He was great at everything he did. He’s a great friend and extremely loyal,” Daibes replied. “Let me know if I can get him a recliner. It helped me sleep.”
Of course, the senator appears to have implicated himself by texting government information to his partner – once about an impending ammunition sale – which she then forwarded to Hana, who passed it on to his Egyptian government contacts. According to the indictment, a Cairo military official responded “with a ‘thumbs up’ emoji” in response to the ammunition news.
Then there is the occasion described in the indictment when the senator sent his bride a news article about his colleagues’ intention to raise the abysmal human rights standards of the Middle East autocracy, which she promptly passed on to another Egyptian official. This anonymous employee responded: “Thank you, Chairman [Menendez] I also mentioned it today, we appreciate it.”
“I just thought it would be better to know in advance what will be discussed so you can prepare your counterarguments,” she reportedly wrote back.