Why Did Trump Give Clemency to Sen. Menendez’ Partner in Crime?

Melgen and Menendez

From an opinion article today by Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger Columnist Paul Mulshine:

Another South Florida resident familiar with the case has a different take on why The Donald did what he did.

Tom Anderson has followed this case from its inception back in 2012. Working for a government watchdog group called the National Legal and Policy Center, he uncovered the eye doctor’s efforts to win a potentially lucrative deal for providing port security to Melgen’s native country the Dominican Republic.

Menendez ran interference with federal regulators to aid Melgen in his ultimately unsuccessful effort to get that contract. He also helped Melgen out with the feds in his Medicare fee dispute.

Why was a New Jersey senator acting on behalf of a Florida eye doctor? In that trial in Newark, the federal prosecutors argued that Menendez did it because of the favors that Melgen did for him, including a stay at a luxury hotel in Paris as well as numerous trips to the Dominican Republic on Melgen’s private jets.

The feds produced ample evidence, including blown-up photos of the jets – Melgen had two – as well as testimony from three young women of considerable sightliness whom the senator had aided in immigration proceedings.

But the jury failed to convict. Like others who covered the trial, I’d give the credit to Menendez defense attorney Abbe Lowell. Lowell, who is perhaps the pre-eminent inside-the-Beltway defense attorney, did a masterful job of picking apart the government’s case to the point where the jury could not agree on a verdict.

At that point, Anderson said, “You have a situation where the Trump Justice Department had an opportunity to prosecute Menendez again after the hung jury. But the Trump Justice Department said, ‘Leave this guy alone.’”

Why would a Republican-run Justice Department let a Democratic politician off the hook?

Perhaps it’s because of the close relationship Lowell had with the Kushners, Anderson said. In June of 2017, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner hired Lowell to represent him in that inquiry into alleged election interference by the Russians.

“And in January of 2018, everything gets dropped for Menendez,” Anderson said.

And now everything gets dropped for his one-time co-defendant as well. That might sound confusing – unless you’re a Washington insider.

“Anyone who knows anything about Washington, D.C., knows that at the end of the day you can’t box yourself into a corner,” Anderson said. “You have to be friends with everyone. Abbe Lowell is that kind of guy.”

He certainly was a good friend to Menendez.

Maybe Trump should hire him.

Click here to read the entire column in the Newark Star-Ledger.