WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez may be making an unanticipated trip to the Dominican Republic. A judge wants to hear from him about a prostitute’s statement that she was paid to falsely claim she had sex with him.
Did she turn a trick, or was she tricked? Those are among the questions Menendez is sure to be asked, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.
All of this surfaced after a woman who said she appeared in an Internet video claiming the New Jersey senator paid her for sex at a Caribbean resort reportedly changed her story. That woman, identified as Nexis de los Santos, now says she was reading from a script after being recruited by a lawyer.
“From the very beginning, I have said that this was an effort that began during my election by a right-wing blog with nameless, faceless, anonymous sources that were driving a story to defame me that were absolute outright false smears,” Sen. Menendez told WCBS 880′s Steve Scott in the first interview he’s granted since the scandal broke. “Today’s news obviously indicates that that’s exactly what it was.”
In an interview with WCBS 880 Tuesday afternoon, Menendez said the news media latched onto the conservative blog story linking him to prostitutes without checking the facts.
“I don’t know who’s behind this effort, but obviously there are interests that see my advocacy on some of these policy issues to hurt their interests,” Menendez told WCBS 880′s Scott.
“And, so, I look forward to seeing whatever the Dominican courts have that prove what I’ve said all along,” the senator told reporters earlier Tuesday.
“I have always conducted myself in legal and ethical aspects and I believe when all the information is known and when we continuously see the unfolding reality of this story as we are beginning to see it, that we will see that it was nothing more than a defaming smear operation,” the senator told WCBS 880.
The judge said he needs testimony from Menendez or his lawyer before deciding whether the woman should be arrested for making false statements.
“There’s nothing I know or need to do for them to pursue the inquiry. They have the people under their jurisdiction who have now admitted that someone was paying them for this. They need to ask who’s paying them,” Menendez told WCBS 880 on Tuesday.
However, there is another wrinkle in the “she said, he said, she said, he said” tale. The right wing blog in question, The Daily Caller, which originally ran the story, said the Washington Post, which published the story clearing Menendez, has the wrong prostitute.
“The prostitute in the Post’s story does not appear to be one of the women we interviewed in 2012,” The Daily Caller said. “Details provided by the prostitute conflict with the taped interviews The Daily Caller posted on Nov. 1.”
In addition to the prostitution scandal, questions remain about Menendez’s intervention with government agencies for Dr. Solomon Melgen, a top donor who gave $700,000 to Menendez and other Democrats during the last election cycle.
“We raise questions all the time for a wide range of universe on public policy issues and we think that those are all legitimate and, in fact, you know, after review it will be proved to be legitimate,” Sen. Menendez said.
The matters are being investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he stands four-square behind Menendez.
Meanwhile, the court hearing on the prostitution case in the Dominican Republican is set for June 10.
So who’s telling the truth here? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …