More details continue to come in regarding the ongoing bribery trial of a top Democrat senator.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) tried to intimidate government officials to help his friend — a wealthy doctor guilty of health care fraud — who bribed the senator. It turns out that Harry Reid was the one who set up the meeting for him to do it, according to The Federalist.
Justice Department officials have said that Menendez met with top officials at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help a wealthy eye doctor friend of his, Salomon Melgen, to get out of an $8.9 million dispute.
The doctor was convicted of Medicare fraud, facing 15 to 20 years in prison on 67 counts, including health care fraud, submitting false claims, and falsifying records in patients’ files. The physician collected more than $21 million, more than any other doctor in the nation, according to Business Insider.
Menendez was given lavish vacations, private plane trips, and more than $750,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for his efforts to help fight the health care fraud case for his friend.
Jonathan Blum, a former principal deputy administrator at CMS, testified in court that the senator had pressured him into trying to change the agency’s rules in order to “relieve or forgive or lessen” the Florida doctor’s over-billing. During a 2009 phone call, the bureaucrat told Menendez that they wouldn’t be amending their policy, resulting in the senator getting “hostile,” and hanging up the phone.
“I was very curious why the senator was focused on this case and asked the staff several times,” said Blum. “I found the tone to be very angry, very hostile. I found that I was being put on the defensive and it was a very angry exchange.”
But things got more interesting when Blum testified that then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was the one who arranged for the meeting between Menendez and Kathleen Sebelius, then-secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to discuss policies affecting Melgen. The meeting took place in Reid’s office.
Reid ended up going so far as to use his connections to appeal to the White House to help “amplify the pressure” on the Obama Administration. “At that time, the Majority Leader reached out to the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, informing her that Menendez was upset about how a Florida ophthalmologist was being treated by CMS and asking that she call the agency,” read a 30-page filing.
However, the White House staffer Reid spoke with wasn’t convinced by Reid’s comments.
Harry Reid set up meeting for Sen. Menendez to intimidate government officials. Is Reid complicit in Menendez’s criminal troubles?
The connections between the trio are even deeper than they first appear. Melgen and Reid have their own relationship, with the former giving over $600,000 in 2012 to Majority PAC, a political action committee intended to grow the Democrat majority in the Senate. Melgen also flew Reid on his company’s private jet from Washington to Boston and back for a PAC-related event.
“Just as a genuine friendship may underlie a business arrangement, it should come as no surprise that friendship may very well form the foundation of a corrupt endeavor,” said the prosecutors in the case, making the past relationship between Menendez, Melgen, and even Reid common knowledge to all.
Despite this, Democrat senators are standing in defense of these individuals. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have both rushed to their aid with comments defending the trio. However, the evidence seems to be strongly stacked against them. Time will tell what verdict the judge will hand down to these individuals.