Former NJ Attorney General Recounts Tense Menendez Meeting

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TL/DR –

Senator Robert Menendez is on trial for federal bribery charges, with prosecutors alleging he used his political influence to assist allies in exchange for bribes. Menendez is accused of contacting New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbir S. Grewal, to express displeasure at the treatment of Hispanic defendants in a fraud case, instigated by a mutual ally, Jose Uribe. Uribe, who has pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy, reportedly gave Menendez’s wife a Mercedes-Benz convertible as a bribe, and is cooperating with prosecutors.


Senator Menendez’s Bribery Trial Uncovers Alleged Intervention in Insurance Fraud Case

The September 2019 meeting between Senator Robert Menendez and New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, became a central talking point during Menendez’s federal bribery trial. Grewal revealed that Menendez expressed dissatisfaction over the treatment of certain Hispanic trucking industry defendants by prosecutors in Grewal’s insurance fraud unit.

Grewal tactfully ended the conversation when it became clear it was related to a specific case. “I didn’t know the case. I didn’t want to know the case,” Grewal said, deeming it an uncomfortable topic to discuss.

Grewal and his deputy, Andrew Bruck, left the meeting feeling uneasy. “Andrew said, ‘Whoa, that was gross,’” Grewal testified. This revelation marks the second testimony that brings to light direct conversations between Menendez and key witnesses, central to the prosecution’s claim that Menendez exploited his political power for personal gain.

Prosecutors allege Menendez contacted Grewal for Jose Uribe, a friend seeking assistance in quashing an insurance fraud case involving Uribe’s associates. Uribe, implicated in the alleged bribery conspiracy, pleaded guilty and is now assisting the prosecution.

Uribe admitted to gifting a Mercedes-Benz convertible to Menendez’s wife to sway the senator; Uribe is expected to testify soon. Grewal indicated that Menendez was courteous but expressed clear displeasure during their interaction.

Grewal interpreted Menendez’s dissatisfaction as wanting the case to be handled differently. He chose not to inform his prosecutors about the conversation to avoid any undue pressure.

Now leading the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division, Grewal testified for nearly three hours about these interactions, an unconventional role for him in a criminal trial.

The case involves a business associate of Uribe’s and a woman he considered family. It seems to have greatly affected Uribe, judging from numerous text messages sent to Menendez’s wife and a fellow accused, Wael Hana.

Texts from Uribe to Menendez’s wife show the issue remained unresolved even after a second call from Menendez to Grewal. “I need peace,” Uribe texted on Sept. 3, 2019, just before Menendez arranged a second meeting with Grewal.

Menendez’s trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan is part of a larger case involving his wife, Fred Daibes, and Hana, all pled not guilty. The wife’s trial has been postponed due to her ongoing breast cancer treatment.

The defense argues that Mrs. Menendez kept her financial struggles and requests for money hidden from her husband. However, the prosecution claims Menendez directly intervened in a criminal investigation, making Grewal’s testimony vital to their case.

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