New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is no stranger to political scandal and federal indictment, but the latest charges against the Democratic incumbent represent his greatest political threat yet — though it comes from within his own political party.
Menendez weathered other charges in 2017 in a bribery and corruption trial that ultimately ended in a hung jury, with the Justice Department declining to refile charges. However, the state and national political machinery was behind him then. In 2018, a nominal primary challenger got almost 38% of the vote, and Menendez was forced into a competitive general election, albeit one he ended up winning by 11 points against a Republican self-funder.
But within hours of the new indictment — which charges Menendez and his wife of conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud and extortion — dropping on Friday, it became clear that Menendez could no longer count on the same stalwart support he enjoyed the last time around. According to the indictment, the couple received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in exchange for the then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair helping
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