“Menendez’s Actions on a Donor’s Behalf Were ‘Unusual,’ Witnesses Say”


In one instance, Mr. Menendez, according to testimony, met with two former high-ranking Democratic senators — Tom Harkin of Iowa and Harry Reid of Nevada — to discuss a Medicare billing dispute that would have cost Dr. Melgen millions of dollars. In a second, prosecution witnesses said he pressured the State Department and Customs and Border Protection officials to help Dr. Melgen, who owned a cargo-scanning equipment company, maintain his business’s presence at ports in the Dominican Republic.

In particular, prosecutors said, Mr. Menendez urged Customs and Border Protection to stop a donation of cargo-scanning equipment from the United States government that would have cut into Dr. Melgen’s profits.

“It’s somewhat unusual to have a senator or a member of Congress to ask us to stop — in a way, stop doing our law enforcement mission,” Stephanie Talton, a former congressional liaison for Customs and Border Protection, testified. Ms. Talton had received an email from an aide to Mr. Menendez asking her to “please consider holding off on the delivery of any such equipment until you can discuss this matter with us.”


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