Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on Tuesday addressed his lawyer’s accusations that the Cuban government was behind a smear campaign against him, calling the alleged plot “appalling.”
“The democracy of the people of Cuba — I have been outspoken in that regard, and I wouldn’t be surprised that the regime would do anything it can to stop me from being in a position that ultimately would impede their hopes of being able to get a different relationship with the United States based upon their interest, but not the interest of the Cuban people,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash.
The Washington Post reported that Menendez’s lawyer had asked the Justice Department to investigate CIA intelligence linking Cuban agents to efforts to disseminate allegations that the New Jersey Democrat consorted with prostitutes. The original allegations surfaced just days ahead of the 2012 elections, after which Menendez was slated to take over the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The New Jersey Democrat declined to comment to CNN on his lawyer’s communications, but insisted that the Washington Post story showed the government possessed proof of the Cuban regime’s conspiring against him.
“It should be pretty appalling that a foreign government should be engaged in trying to effect the election or position of a U.S. senator,” he told Bash. “If that can happen, I think there’s real consequences for our democracy. So I hope that the authorities will investigate and come to the bottom of who was engaged.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.