Federal investigators may file criminal corruption charges against New Jersey U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez as early as this week, The Wall Street Journal reports.
For almost two years, Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been expecting charges and a costly legal battle in the wake probes of alleged misconduct linked to a longtime donor.
Menendez's lawyer and a spokesman declined comment on Sunday, the Journal reported, but he has previously denied wrongdoing.
The charges will be filed in the Democrat's home state of New Jersey, sources told the newspaper.
The charges in the FBI probe are believed to be related to Menendez's relationship with his friend and donor Salomon Melgen, a prominent Florida eye doctor.
After the investigation began, Menendez repaid Melgen $60,000 for a roundtrip flight on his private plane to the Dominican Republic. Menendez did not initially report the doctor's gift on his disclosure forms.
The probe reportedly is looking into whether Menendez sought to use his office to improperly give aid to Melgen in an investigation that he possible overbilled for Medicare services.
Aides to Menendez say he only asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to clarify their policy and did not seek to influence Melgen's case.
In a separate case, the probe is looking into whether Menendez urged Homeland Security not to provide cargo screening equipment to the Dominican Republic in 2013. That, too, would have been of benefit to Melgen, who owned a competing plan to provide cargo screening.
Menendez's aides have said his only motivation for opposing the plan was to secure ports and prevent drugs and other forms of contraband from flowing into the United States.
"I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law," Menendez said earlier this month. "I fight for these issues and for the people of our country every single day."
Part of his legal strategy will be to attempt to testify before the grand jury using the Constitution's "speech and debate" clause, which prohibits members of Congress and their staff from being questioned about their motivation for supporting or opposing legislative acts.
Though the investigation has been ongoing for two years, Menendez supporters have questioned the timing of a leak of the probe earlier this month. The senator has been a vocal opponent from within the president's own party of the administration's stance on opening relations with Cuba and negotiating a nuclear arms treaty with Iran.
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