Report: Cuban gov't may have been behind Menendez prostitution claims

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) in September, 2013. AP

The CIA has credible evidence that the Cuban government may have been behind the allegations that Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., patronized Dominican prostitutes, according to the Washington Post.

In an intelligence report produced for the U.S. last year, the CIA said evidence indicates that Cuba's Directorate of Intelligence helped fabricated a tipster named "Pete Williams," the Post reports, citing an unnamed former U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of the evidence. That tipster fed the story to the conservative news site the Daily Caller, which was the first news outlet to run with the story in 2012. The tipster alleged that Menendez engaged with prostitutes while vacationing at the Dominican Republic home belonging to South Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, a donor and friend of the senator's.

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  • Menendez's lawyer, Stephen M. Ryan, confirmed to the Post that he's asked the Justice Department to pursue the evidence. He argued that the smear campaign was meant to take down the senator's political career as he ran for re-election and assumed a leadership position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    "It is deeply disturbing that a foreign government whose intelligence service is an enemy of the United States might try to influence U.S. foreign policy by discrediting an elected official who is an opponent of the Cuban regime," Ryan told the newspaper.

    Along with investigating the origins of the prostitution claims, federal officials have been investigating whether he illegally provided Melgen with political favors in return for his generosity.

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