With surprise, disbelief, and deep sorrow, we learned of the serious charges from the U.S. Attorney in New York against U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, the most enthusiastic non-Greek philhellene in memory.
Previously, in 2015, charges had been filed against him that he had illegally intervened on behalf of a friend, a doctor who had a problem with Medicare in exchange for donations to his election campaigns and extravagant trips.
However, the court, albeit marginally, acquitted him.
But these new charges, covering 38 pages, are, with every line, every page, a punch in the gut.
In summary, the indictment alleges that Robert Menendez, as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged his colleagues on the committee to support the resumption of military aid to Egypt, which had been suspended due to human rights abuses by the country’s regime.
According to the indictment, Egyptian authorities granted a friend of his wife an exclusive monopoly for certifying the preparation of Halal food for
American exports to Egypt in exchange for money. (Halal certification applies to food, jewelry, and drugs, and confirms that they comply with Islamic law, do not contain forbidden elements, and have not come into contact with contaminated substances.)
He is also accused of interfering in the work of the Judiciary in his home state of New Jersey on behalf of his supporters facing legal problems.
The FBI executed a search warrant, and found in his house more than $480,000 in cash – most of it in clothing, closets, and a safe – gold bars, and in the garage of the house, a Mercedes-Benz automobile.
These charges are serious and become more convincing because they are accompanied by revealing photos of the gold bars they found and reports of meetings he and his wife had with people connected to Egyptian intelligence services.
However – and this must be emphasized – the charges must be proven in court. This is not easy according to current legislation – it is part of a politician’s job to serve his constituents.
In this spirit, there is the statement of support from Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York and leader of the Senate:
“Bob Menendez has been a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey. He has a right to due process and a fair trial.”
However, the damage has already been done regarding matters that concern us. Out of a sense of responsibility and following the rules of his party, Menendez resigned as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, although he remains a committee member. Thus, his ability, for example, to prevent the sale of F-16s to Turkey, has been relinquished.
Of course, the winner in this case is Turkey, which had against it an intelligent, sensitive, personally experienced, and powerful politician, who had delved into its perennial unreliability as an ally of the United States and demanded respect for Greece’s sovereignty, condemnation of its invasion of Cyprus, and the withdrawal of occupying forces.
The answer to the legitimate question of whether the Turks contributed to the creation or even the disclosure of the conditions that led him to his current situation may never be known.
It should be noted, however, that Greece, Cyprus, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate have several knowledgeable and articulate supporters on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
On our part, we express once again our solidarity, our gratitude, and our warmest wishes to our friend, the Senator, for full vindication and his re-election in future elections.