The Dumbest Details From the Menendez Indictment

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

After nearly a year of anticipation, the most shocking thing about the federal indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez that 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—all over the purported plot to take bribes in exchange for local, national, and international favors. So far, Menendez and two of the other defendants have denied wrongdoing.

None has yet disputed U.S. Attorney Damian Williams’ evidence. And that evidence, if accurate, would appear to indicate that not only is Menendez a crook, but an incredibly bad one.

Here’s a rundown of the most ridiculous tidbits from the criminal complaint.

The envelopes

Envelopes are all over Williams’ indictment, just like they were allegedly all over Menendez’s home when the FBI paid a visit last summer. Among other locales, the feds reported finding them inside the pockets of two jackets with the senator’s name stitched on them—one appearing to be a Congressional Hispanic Caucus windbreaker.

On the envelopes themselves, the feds say they found the fingerprints and DNA of alleged co-conspirator Fred Daibes and his chauffeur—and, on one, Daibes’ return address.

The total value of the cash on the premises came to almost $500,000. And that’s without getting into the allegedly gifted Mercedes convertible in the garage, or…

The gold bars

The FBI also reported recovering more than $100,000 in gold bars of different sizes from the Menendez residence. The thing about gold bars is that they come with unique serial numbers, and the indictment asserts these numbers let them trace 11 of the bars at the home to Daibes, and two more to Wael Hana, the Egyptian-American businessman behind the mysterious exporter IS EG Halal.

Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announcing that U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted on corruption charges charges

Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announcing that U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted on corruption charges charges.

Alexi Rosenfeld

The Google searches

It’s unclear whether the feds got the info from Menendez’s internet service provider, or whether he just didn’t clear his browser history, but shortly after receiving one of the alleged deliveries of gold bars, the indictment claims the senator Googled “kilo of gold price.”

It’s not the only time he allegedly left a trail online. Elsewhere, the complaint claims Menendez did a Google search for the state agency whose investigation of an employee and relative of co-defendant Jose Uribe he allegedly attempted to interfere in.

The photos

Maybe it’s too much in this era to suggest somebody not pictorially document every waking moment of their life. But you might want to at least crop some of your shots.

The Menendez couple, Uribe, and an associate let somebody photograph the four of them at a “celebratory dinner” shortly after the senator interceded to resolve some of Uribe’s legal issues.

The married pair also had their photo taken during a private dinner at the home of an Egyptian intelligence official allegedly in on one of the bribery schemes, while the feds said they found a picture of two gold bars on the senatorial spouse’s phone—with the serial numbers linking them to Daibes plainly visible.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife Nadine Arslanian

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife Nadine Arslanian.

Chip Somodevilla

The text messages

The only thing more irritating than a partner who texts absolutely constantly is one who can’t stop texting about a criminal conspiracy you’re implicated in—creating a mass of evidence for investigators to grab.

But that’s allegedly exactly what the senator’s wife did. And despite her alleged efforts to delete the texts, the Justice Department recovered some doozies. For instance, on one occasion, she allegedly texted Daibes to complain Hana hadn’t paid her, prompting the businessman to respond “Nadine I personally gave Bob a check for September.”

While awaiting that payment from Hana, she messaged her husband “I am soooooo upset,” and added “I thought Fred [DAIBES] would make sure it’s there and the second day in a row there is nothing.” She did eventually get $30,000 from IS EG Halal, the indictment notes.

Nadine Menendez did not keep her texting to her fellow Americans either. She allegedly wrote the Egyptian intelligence official “anytime you need anything you have my number and we will make everything happen.”

She also left a text message record of Uribe’s alleged underwriting of her Mercedes, sending Hana “I’m so excited to get a car next week. !!” and writing to her husband “Congratulations mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes.” Uribe wrote her “are you happy,” to which she responded “I will never forget this.”

And on multiple occasions, she responded to Daibes’ alleged bribes with “Christmas in January” and “THANK YOU Fred” with a string of emojis. She also texted to tell the businessman, facing bank fraud charges, that her husband was sleeping better due to Daibes’ trial date getting temporarily adjourned—after the senator purportedly intervened repeatedly with the Justice Department on his behalf.

“He was amazing in all he did. He’s an amazing friend and as loyal as they come,” Daibes responded. “Let me know if I can get him a recliner. It helped me sleep.”

Of course, the senator himself appears to have implicated himself by texting government information to his partner—once about an impending ammunition sale—that she then forwarded to Hana, who passed it along to his Egyptian government contacts. According to the indictment, in response to the ammo news, a Cairo military official “replied with a ‘thumbs-up’ emoji.”

Then there’s the occasion detailed in the indictment when the senator sent his bride a news article about his colleagues’ intention to raise the Middle Eastern autocracy’s abysmal human rights, which she promptly passed to yet another Egyptian official. That anonymous operative responded, “Thanks you so much, chairman [Menendez] also raised it today, we appreciate it.”

“I just thought it would be better to know ahead of time what is being talked about and this way you can prepare your rebuttals,” she allegedly wrote back.

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