The HillTube

Sen. Menendez wants DOJ to investigate alleged Cuban smear plot

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Monday called for a Justice Department investigation into allegations that the Cuban government may have planted false stories linking him to underage prostitutes.

"It should be pretty appalling that a foreign government would be involved in trying to affect the election or position of a United States senator," Menendez told CNN in an interview Tuesday. "If that can happen, I think there's real consequences for our democracy."

His comments follow a report Monday that suggested government investigators had already gathered evidence of a possible Cuban smear plot.

A lawyer for Menendez wrote the Justice Department earlier this year claiming the CIA had credible evidence linking Cuban intelligence agents to efforts to plant stories in the media, The Washington Post reported.

ADVERTISEMENT
According to a former U.S. official quoted by the newspaper, Cuban intelligence operatives appear to have created a fake tipster who claimed Menendez had consorted with underage prostitutes. The story was designed to inflict political damage against the lawmaker during of his 2012 reelection campaign.

The Daily Caller reported the allegations in the days before the November election. But three Dominican women quoted by the conservative website saying they had been paid to have sex with Menendez recanted their story, with one admitting in an affidavit she had been paid to make the claim.

Menendez would not confirm that he had seen the intelligence report linking the allegations to Cuba or that his lawyer had requested an investigation.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's the government that should produce the information they supposedly have within their own agencies," he said.

But Menendez, who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would not be surprised that the Cuban “regime would do anything they can to stop me from being in a position that ultimately would impede their hopes of getting a different relationship of the United States."

"For 22 years between the House and the Senate I have had a firm position in opposition to the Cuban regime," Menendez said.