Both Belong In Prison
Yesterday, right before the sun came up, ProPublica dropped it’s latest Supreme Court exposé… back to Brother Clarence, one of the most corrupt men in the history of the federal judiciary, on a level with tainted US District Court Judge James Peck (impeached in 1830). A couple of months ago, Michale Tomasky suggested that we call the Supreme Court what it is: an openly corrupt institution whose right-wing members are destroying its reputation because they simply do not care how the broader public sees them. They are in fact so blind to their own corruption that they don’t even recognize it when they’ve reached the point of parody. I refer here specifically to Amy Coney Barrett giving that speech pleading that the justices “aren’t a bunch of partisan hacks”— while sharing a stage with Mitch McConnell, the greatest legislative corrupter of the Supreme Court in modern history. That she couldn’t recognize the irony of that— or wait: She probably did recognize it but just didn’t give a crap… Clarence Thomas, as we now know thanks to ProPublica, is one of the most unprincipled people in American public life. He embodies the moral rot of today’s American right more fully than the others.”
The NY Times reported that “the circumstances of Justice Thomas’s role at an elite donor event organized by a powerful right-wing organization renewed questions about his ethics practices, particularly given that the Koch network has brought several cases before the Supreme Court… Since disclosures about Justice Thomas’s decadeslong relationship with the billionaire real estate developer Harlan Crow shed light on a series of lavish gifts and travel that went unreported for years, scrutiny has intensified over the elite circles and powerful donors he moves among.”
Almost immediately after ProPublica dropped their explosive investigation, it got wiped right off the top of the news feeds because of the indictment of another corrupt scumbag, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. There’s a glaring difference of course. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey Senate President Nick Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin— all Democrats— all called on Menendez to resign. And so did county party chairs and Democratic elected officials up and down the ladder… very different from the Clarence Thomas bribery situation, where not a single Republican has called on him to resign or do anything else.
The Menendez saga is almost funny— in Dan Pfeiffer’s words like “a poorly written episode of The Sopranos.” He also noted that “Menendez has been an ethical stain on the Democratic Party for years… [and he] needs to go.” Last month we asked at what point is it fair to blame the Democratic Party for Menendez’s derail corruption. Although… like the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate is “an openly corrupt institution.” Right now I know that the Southern District of New York is cutting a deal with Menendez and I know he’s writing his resignation speech. I just hope they don’t shave too much time off his prison term. He should never walk free again. Neither she the whore he married. And the crooked son should be kicked out of Congress as well.
Menendez, who actually started as a reformer, switched into corruption mode within minutes of beating the bad guys and assuming public office. People just shrugged and said, “Oh, well, that’s New Jersey.” On the particular capers Menendez has been indicted for this time, he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes— including cash and gold bars— in return for his using his power as senator to help the bribers, including the government of Egypt.
Politico reported that when law enforcement searched Menendez’s home, they turned up $480,000 in cash hidden away, $70,000 more in Nadine’s safe deposit box and $100,000 worth of gold bars— and yes, there are photos in the 39-page indictment, including one of bundles of cash found inside a Menendez-monogrammed jacket. In just one of many incredible details, prosecutors allege that Menendez returned from an Egypt trip in 2021 and searched online for “how much is one kilo of gold worth.” Authorities say Menendez also received payments on his mortgage and a luxury car as bribes. The official charges for the couple are conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion. [3 crooked] businessmen were also charged. All are set to appear in a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday… Per the indictment, prosecutors say that Menendez:
“provided sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt,” including plans to keep “foreign military sales and foreign military financing” flowing despite human rights worries that might have cut them off;
tried to intervene in a criminal investigation into one of the businessmen;
recommended a nominee for U.S. attorney in New Jersey whom he thought he could sway on a different businessman’s prosecution; and
tried to influence the Department of Agriculture to benefit one of the businessmen.
Erica Orden and Matt Friedman broke down the indictment:
In the first scheme, according to prosecutors, the senator “provided sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt,” as well as pressured an official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to benefit the business of Wael Hana, one of the three businesspeople defendants.
Hana, who is originally from Egypt, is a longtime friend of Nadine Menendez and had close connections with Egyptian officials, according to the indictment. Shortly after Nadine Menendez began dating the senator, she and Hana introduced Egyptian military and intelligence officials to the senator “for the purpose of establishing and solidifying a corrupt agreement” in which Hana, assisted by the two other indicted businesspeople, Fred Daibes and Jose Uribe, provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to the couple, according to the indictment.
In exchange for the bribes, the indictment says, the senator took acts to benefit Hana and the Egyptian government, “including with respect to foreign military sales and foreign military financing”— matters over which Menendez had significant influence as the chairman and, prior to that, as the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Among other things, the indictment alleges, at a dinner in May 2018, Menendez gave Hana non-public information about the U.S.’s provision of military aid to Egypt, after which Hana texted an Egyptian official: “The ban on small arms and ammunition to Egypt has been lifted. That means sales can begin. That will include sniper rifles among other articles.”
Menendez also allegedly contacted officials at the USDA, seeking to preserve the ability of Hana’s company, IS EG Halal Certified, Inc., to be the exclusive halal certifier for U.S. food exports to Egypt— a status that was under threat at the time and one that, if eliminated, would have jeopardized Hana’s ability to pay bribes to Nadine Menendez.
In the second alleged scheme, prosecutors say Menendez used his position “to seek to disrupt” a New Jersey state criminal prosecution of an associate of Uribe and a New Jersey state criminal investigation involving an employee of Uribe. Menendez contacted a supervisor in the New Jersey attorney general’s office, trying to pressure the official— unsuccessfully, according to the indictment— into causing favorable outcomes for Uribe’s associates.
Uribe subsequently facilitated Nadine Menendez’s purchase of a $60,000 Mercedez-Benz convertible by meeting her in the parking lot of a restaurant to give her $15,000 in cash, which she then used to buy the car, and then he or his associate made monthly financing payments for the convertible, prosecutors say.
And in the third alleged scheme, prosecutors say Menendez sought to influence the pending federal prosecution of Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer who was charged in 2018 with obtaining loans under false pretenses from a bank, in exchange for cash, furniture and gold bars.
Menendez’s status as the senior senator in New Jersey allowed him to recommend candidates for the position of U.S. attorney in the state, and in late 2021 he recommended to President Joe Biden that Philip Sellinger, whom the indictment doesn’t name, get the job because Menendez believed he could influence Sellinger with respect to Daibes’ case, according to prosecutors. Sellinger, however, was recused from the case after he took office, and Menendez then placed several phone calls to the prosecutor who was overseeing the Daibes case instead of Sellinger.
In exchange for the senator’s efforts, the indictment says, Daibes provided Menendez and his wife with cash, a recliner for their home and two one-kilogram gold bars worth more than $120,000 as well as nine one-ounce gold bars. Prosecutors said Daibes’ case wasn’t influenced by Menendez’s contacts and that Daibes pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement that provided for a probationary sentence.
My inside source, who told me about the indictment before it broke and about the New Jersey Democratic Party calling for Menendez's resignation before anyone had done so, also told me that Menendez may resign early next week as part of his plea deal with the Southern District of New York and that Murphy wants to replace him with a place-holder, namely Tammy Murphy, his wife. There's a chance though that Menendez won't resign, just announce his retirement. That would be a catastrophe for the Democratic Party. I think Murphy apopointing his wife as a placeholder is a terrible idea because it would just look like more corruption among insiders. I think Murphy's going to be talked out of it. He should give the job to Bonnie Watson Coleman (who is 78 and an outstanding congresswoman) as long as she agrees not to run in 2024. Unfortunately, the top contender for Menendez's seat is one of the absolute worst Democraps in either house of Congress, crooked Bergen County conservative Josh Gottheimer, a not yet indicted version of Menendez. All the county bosses made the deal solid yesterday. Apparently they wanted someone who had the potential to be worse, not just than Menendez but worse than Manchin and Sinema, since neither is likely to be in the Senate in 2025.