Senator Bob Menendez, left, and Congressman Frank Pallone, making like chimpmunks at the 2012 Belmar St. Patrick’s parade. Photo credit Charles Measley
The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon that Washington, DC based federal prosecutors are expected to file criminal corruption charges against U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) as early as this week.
WSJ’s anonymous sources did not reveal the specific charges, but indicated that a legal battle over how much the Constitution shields federal legislators and their aides has come to a close. The charges, which reportedly will be filed in New Jersey’s federal courts, are believed to involve Menendez’s relationship with Florida eye-doctor, Solomon Melgen.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on the Menendez prosecution. In a hastily called press conference after the CNN report broke on March 8, the senator defiantly defended the “appropriateness and lawfulness” of his conduct in office, including his dealings with Melgen.
Dr. Salomon Melgen, left and Senator Robert Menendez
CNN is reporting that outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutor’s plans to proceed with criminal corruption charges against New Jersey’s senior U.S. Senator, Bob Menendez.
The fact that Menendez has been the most outspoken Democratic opponent of the Obama Administration’s policies regarding Iran and Cuba is just a coincidence.
The Justice Department is said to believe that Menendez improperly pressured Medicare administrators to back off on his friend and benefactor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Miami ophthalmologist accused of over billing the heath care program. Additionally, Menendez has been accused of using his position the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to improperly advocate for a Melgen owned security company doing business in the Dominican Republican.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
President Barack Obama has long tried to distance himself from the “Fast and Furious” scandal at the Justice Department, which stems from a program under which Mexican drug cartels were allowed to acquire U.S. firearms that were later used against U.S. law-enforcement personnel. By invoking executive privilege to stymie congressional investigation of the case, the president has placed himself squarely in the center of it.
President Obama, who had been a bitter critic of the Bush administration’s use of executive privilege, today through his representatives protested that he is only doing what the Bush administration did before him. The same man who once accused President Bush of “hiding behind executive privilege” is now hiding behind George W. Bush.
Executive privilege serves a necessary function in our constitutional order, reinforcing the separation of powers and protecting sensitive deliberations within the executive branch, and it is especially strong when the president or his closest advisers in the White House are involved in the communication. In this case, the administration has long denied that the president was directly involved. Instead, Attorney General Eric Holder wasted everyone’s time invoking a spurious form of deliberative privilege that was completely decoupled from executive privilege. Such a privilege has no force vis-à-vis Congress. By finally invoking executive privilege yesterday, the president belatedly acknowledged that his attorney general was full of it.
Executive privilege has legitimate uses — and illegitimate uses. For instance, it is not intended to be used merely to protect the president from political embarrassment stemming from grievous errors in judgment by members of his cabinet or officers of the departments over which they preside. There is good reason to believe that in this case the privilege is being abused.
I am hoping that the tragedy of the Trayvon Martin incident and all of the ensuing drama will become a teachable moment for all of us and also a call to reflect on our own reactions to the story.
On social media, thousands of people were posting the message, “Justice for Trayvon”, with an account of what allegedly happen on that night. The thing that struck me most about the ubiquitous postings was that in order to repost “Justice for Trayvon”, one must accept the premise that justice will NOT be served.
In my schools and at home we learned not to pre- judge anyone because of skin color, race or creed. The lesson was simple enough; but that was before a new language was introduced to deal with our differences and with it a philosophy that has undermined race relations and pitted all types of “groups” against others, despite the indisputable fact that the intention was to overcome our differences and to learn to get along. If you are under 40 years old you have never known any different.
My questions are: Why did so many people automatically jump to the conclusion that justice cannot be served? Why did the media use old pictures instead of more recent and accurate pictures? Why did the New York Times refer to Mr. Zimmerman as a “white” Hispanic? Why is it that the Attorney General has no interest in the New Black Panther party placing a bounty on the head of a private citizen? Why did the president think that his comments regarding the matter were appropriate? Why did Trayvon’s mom use the plural (they) instead of the singular (he) when speaking of her son’s shooting? Why did Spike Lee tweet the (wrong) address of the Zimmerman family? Please notice that I have not included the more incendiary comments and charges. Where does one learn this behavior? Could it be the same place they learn that Black children learn differently than White children, and that all “cultures”, instead of all “Individuals” are equal? Is it the same place where they learn about victimhood, institutional racism and group identity politics?
Multiculturalism is a philosophy that pretends to be a uniting system of tolerance and diversity. In actual practice it is exactly the opposite. The insidious genius of Multiculturalism is in placing some “groups” in a position where they are forced to accept the original sin of past deeds and prejudices’ of unrelated ancestors and similar “colored” people, while forgiving others from being personally responsible for their own actions due to injustices of the past. It also asks decent and fair minded people to defend themselves against unwarranted charges of racism by proving that they are not racist.
The philosophy of multiculturalism actually is a very divisive form of tribalism and collectivism. Multiculturalism separates us into opposing camps and it threatens to Balkanize our country. True diversity and tolerance comes from equal opportunity, economic freedom, and the rule of law.
We must wake up and realize that we are a country of “Individuals” (not groups) from many backgrounds, with certain inalienable rights that are protected by our laws and the Constitution.
It may be that the desire for instant retribution is responsible for the unseemly reactions by some to the slow process of obtaining the facts in the case, processing them and presenting them to a Grand Jury, but the behavior exhibited by far too many, looks a lot more like prejudice than “Justice”.