Federal investigators had a confidential informant who secretly recorded Sen. Bob Menendez's conversations, according to a legal brief filed by prosecutors in the bribery case against the New Jersey Democrat.
The 196-page legal brief, filed Monday in response to the senator’s request last month that his charges be dismissed, highlighted "information from a particular confidential source," including recordings of conversations between the senator and three New Jersey businessmen with ties to Egypt, as well as "draft translations of the recordings."
The senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, have been accused of handing out political favors while pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. During a speech last month on the Senate floor, the senator denied any wrongdoing, declaring,"I have never violated the public trust. I have been a patriot for and of my country."
Menendez’s lawyers portrayed the senator as a victim, alleging one of the businessmen, Wael Hana, "was running his own scam." While the prosecutors agreed that Hana "swindled" Menendez and his wife "by not giving them the full value of the bribes they should have received," they said Menendez was still guilty of participating in a bribery scheme, according to the legal brief obtained by the New York Times.
"Far from undermining that Menendez and Hana were in a conspiracy," the prosecutors said, "the evidence that Hana allegedly took more of what he recognized as bribes and shortchanged the Menendezes is proof that the bribery scheme indeed existed."
Menendez’s lawyers have accused prosecutors of framing standard legislative practices as criminal offenses and failing to honor constitutional protections given to congressional members. "We look forward to the court’s review of the merits of our motions that expose how the government has overcharged and overhyped this case," one of Menendez’s lawyers said.
The prosecutors on Monday asked the federal district court to reject the senator’s request to have the charges dismissed, noting that "legislators ought not to stand above the law they create but ought generally to be bound by it as are ordinary persons."
More than half of Menendez’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate called for his resignation in September. The senator has insisted he is innocent and told his colleagues he would not resign.