Menendez: FBI Searches Were Illegal

Government 'actively distorted the evidence,' embattled senator claims in new filing
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2024 7:59 AM CST
Menendez Claims He Was Subject to Illegal Searches
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife Nadine Menendez arrive at the federal courthouse in New York, Sept. 27, 2023.   (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon, File)

Sen. Bob Menendez, accused of accepting cash, gold bars, and a luxury car in exchange for political favors, now accuses the government of unreasonable searches and seizures and demands that evidence in the case be thrown out. In a new filing, the New Jersey Democrat claims the government "actively distorted the evidence and withheld key exculpatory information" in order to dupe judges into approving "overbroad and unparticularized" search warrants that "were riddled with material misrepresentations." The five searches of his property and devices between January 2022 and September 2023 amounted to "exploratory rummaging" through years worth of private communications, medical records, financial documents, and heirlooms, his lawyers claim, per the Messenger.

The Jan. 22, 2022, warrant for an "invasive" search of Menendez's email and iCloud accounts was based on a "brief description" of a recorded conversation between a confidential source and "Associate-1" that offered "nothing tying Senator Menendez to the knowing receipt of a bribe," the filing reads, per It also claims FBI agents "ransacked" Menendez's home on June 16, 2022, while he and his wife, co-defendant Nadine Menendez, were out, breaking down unlocked doors and leaving their belongings "in complete disarray," per the New York Times. An indictment claims agents seized more than $550,000 in cash, a Mercedes-Benz, and 13 gold bars, one of which held the fingerprints of Menendez and another co-defendant accused of providing bribes, per the Times.

"To be absolutely clear, Senator Menendez does not believe that anything uncovered in these illegal searches comes remotely close to implicating his knowing involvement in the charged bribery schemes," reads the filing. It goes on to claim "an unprecedented commitment of resources" by the prosecutor's office, which is engaged "not in a prosecution but a persecution." Menendez argues the case is retaliation for his having defeated prior corruption charges in 2017. A rep for the US attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to comment Tuesday, per the Times. "Although the grand jury has returned indictments in this case, its investigation remains ongoing," federal prosecutors wrote to the judge overseeing the case on Monday. (More Bob Menendez stories.)

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