The Trout in Robert Menendez’s Milk

Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife Nadine arrive at a Manhattan court after they were indicted on bribery charges on September 27, 2023, in New York City. The couple are accused of receiving money and other gifts in a corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


“Some circumstantial evidence is very strong,” Henry Thoreau observed, “as when you find a trout in the milk.” 

That line came to mind when I heard about the Robert Menendez allegations. You can come up with all sorts of explanations—maybe even some plausible ones—for why he had hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed in various jacket pockets in his closets. Where else would you keep walking around money? But those gold bars are not just literally but also figuratively, gold. When comedy writers really hit paydirt—a term from goldmining no less!—we say that’s gold! Well, having gold bars whose serial numbers indicated they’d been registered to one of his co-consprirators, well, ain’t dross. I’ve been trying to come up with more hilariously damning—albeit circumstantial!—evidence and the only thing I’ve been able to come up with is if he had a thick sheaf of German-bearer bonds stolen from the Nakatomi tower or maybe an envelope with the words, “Bribe money” on it. 

I am enjoying watching Republicans insist that the—now suddenly legitimate—legal process be allowed to play out while Democrats insist that Menendez needs to resign immediately. Still, shorn of partisan and political motivations—which there are plenty of—both positions have significant merit. Of course, people deserve their day in court. The problem with all the familiar arguments on that front for Republicans is that it is taken as a given that Donald Trump shouldn’t even have to appear in court because the Department of Justice—which just indicted a prominent Democrat—is hopelessly partisan. Some of the usual suspects even contend that the DOJ is prosecuting Menendez solely “to create the appearance of impartiality so that they can continue their jihad against Donald Trump.”

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