N.J. Sen. Bob Menendez to face criminal corruption charges: reports

Michael Walsh
FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2015 file photo, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. It flew through the Republican-run House in 2012, and a year later 79 of the Democratic-led Senate’s 100 members embraced it. With Republicans now controlling both chambers of Congress, the chances for repealing the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices are better than ever. Yet abolishing the tax won’t be easy, even though Republicans rank it a top priority and are backed by Democrats from states that rely on the industry for jobs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., for allegedly using his position to support the business interests of a donor and friend, CNN first reported on Friday.

Attorney General Eric Holder already signed off on prosecutors’ request to pursue charges on the allegations — some of which might pass the statute of limitations, the network said.

The potential charges reportedly stem from the politician’s friendship with Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, who has donated to Menendez and associated committees.

Menendez — who has been one of the most vocal democrats opposing President Barack Obama’s decisions regarding Iran and Cuba, two governments with hostile relationships with the United States — has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in his association with Melgen.

The New Jersey politician does not approve of Obama pursuing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capabilities or loosening the embargo against Cuba.

CNN says an announcement could come within the next few weeks. A law enforcement official confirmed the pending charges, the result of a two-year investigation, to the New York Times.

Holder declined to comment while traveling with Obama in South Carolina. Menendez spokesman Tricia Enright issued a statement that said, “Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason.”

The investigation was launched after a woman said Melgen paid for Menendez to visit underage prostitutes during a trip to the Dominican Republic, according to the broadsheet.

Federal agents continued to pursue the charges after the tipster reportedly withdrew her allegations.