A cloud of suspicion has descended once again upon Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who several years ago beat federal corruption charges.
This time, the focus of investigators is not just the senator, but also his wife, Nadine Arslanian, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Citing what it said were “people familiar with the matter,” the Journal said investigators are probing “whether his wife received gifts or services from individuals who sought favors from the New Jersey politician.”
The website Semafor reported last month that an investigation related to Menendez was underway, but did not reveal details.
At the time, Menendez adviser Michael Soliman offered a response to an inquiry 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 Journal report said the investigation is being conducted by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
The report said subpoenas have been issued to Arslanian’s associates, but have focused on the senator as well as his wife.
The Journal report said it was uncertain what information prosecutors are out to find.
The report said there was no connection to the 2015 public-corruption case that ended up with a mistrial when the jury deadlocked and the judge dismissed charges against Menendez.
The report, citing sources that were not named, said the investigation stretches back to at least 2019, when search warrants were served at the home and office of Wael Hana, an associate of Arslanian who exported halal meat to Egypt through his company, IS EG Halal.
Court documents filed in 2020 by an attorney indicated that the investigation was looking at possible undisclosed foreign lobbying and other potential violations of federal law.
New Jersey lawyer Antranig Aslanian, a friend of Arslanian who has represented Hana, said when he was questioned, he told investigators he had known Arslanian for 25 years and that they shared Armenian heritage.
“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 said he did not know the prosecutors’ end game.
Menendez had been charged in 2015 with accepting about $1 million in gifts from Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was a wealthy ophthalmologist in Florida, in return for favors done by Menendez, according to CNN. After an 11-week trial in 2017, the jury was deadlocked. The Justice Department formally dropped its prosecution of Menendez in 2018.
“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.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.