WASHINGTON – An escort who appeared on a video claiming that New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez paid her for sex has told Dominican authorities that she was instead paid to make up the claims and has never met or seen the senator, according to court documents and two people briefed on her claim.
The woman said a local lawyer had approached her and a fellow escort and asked them to help frame Menendez and a top donor, Salomon Melgen, according to affidavits obtained by The Washington Post.
That lawyer has in turn identified a second Dominican lawyer whom he said gave the woman a script and paid her to read the claims aloud. The first lawyer said he found out only later that the remarks would be videotaped and used against Menendez, the affidavits say.
The escort was one of two women whose claims initially seemed to confirm a tipster’s allegations that Menendez had patronized prostitutes while vacationing in the Dominican Republic. The tipster, who last spring began emailing allegations to a government watchdog group and the FBI, said he had evidence that Menendez was frequenting underage prostitutes and participating in sex parties arranged by Melgen, his friend and political backer.
FBI agents conducting interviews in the Dominican Republic have found no evidence to back up the tipster’s allegations, according to two people briefed on their work.
Menendez has denied the prostitution claims, saying they were made by enemies trying to undermine him as he sought re-election in the fall and became chair of powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee this year.
Menendez said Monday he did not know the details of the two new statements. “But as I’ve said all along, there are obviously some people, some interests using rightwing blogs that have been perpetuating smears about me and I hope that all the truth comes out, because they are nothing but that — smears.” he said. “I’ve always said that these are all false. They’re smears, so I look forward to seeing whatever the Dominican courts have to prove what I’ve said all along.”
The women’s videotaped claims, made with their faces obscured, were posted on the conservative website the Daily Caller. The site reported that “the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 2,300-hectare resort in the Dominican Republic. . . . They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.”
Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson did not reply to phone calls and emails requesting comment.