An attorney for New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is asking the Justice Department to chase down evidence of a Cuban plot to smear the lawmaker with allegations that he partied with underage prostitutes, The Washington Post
Lawyer Stephen Ryan said in an April letter that the smear campaign – which hit the headlines in November 2012, when The Daily Caller quoted two women saying Menendez paid them for sex – was timed to derail Menendez's re-election and preparations to assume the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, The Post reports.
"It is deeply disturbing that a foreign government whose intelligence service is an enemy of the United States might try to influence U.S. foreign policy by discrediting an elected official who is an opponent of the Cuban regime," Ryan said.
Ryan wouldn't elaborate on the contents of the letter, The Post reports.
Menendez has denied
the prostitution allegations.
According to The Post, the CIA had "credible evidence," including Internet protocol addresses, that link Cuban agents to the prostitution claims and efforts to plant the story in U.S. and Latin American media.
The alleged Cuban connection was contained in an intelligence report sent last year to U.S. government officials and the FBI's counterintelligence division, The Post reports.
The Post reports that Cuban operatives helped create fake tipster
who told the FBI and others that he had information about Menendez's participating in poolside sex parties with underage prostitutes while vacationing at the Dominican Republic home of a rich friend and donor, Salomon Melgen.
The FBI couldn't corroborate the claims, The Post reports, and the women who'd initially said they'd been paid to have sex with Menendez recanted
Justice Department investigators are still investigating
whether Menendez used his position to benefit Melgen's business interests.
The FBI's investigation into the prostitution claims was part of a Justice Department probe of the relationship between Menendez and the wealthy donor, The Post reports, and charges are still possible.
"From the moment that article about Sen. Menendez was published, I suspected that it was an invention of Cuban intelligence, because that is the way they work," Enrique Garcia Diaz, a former high-ranking Cuban spy official who defected and is now living in the United States, told The Post.
"It is their modus operandi. They fabricate lies. They look to create intrigue."
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