Reid punts on Bob Menendez question as prostitution scandal deepens

David Martosko Executive Editor
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Thursday that he would not answer questions about how Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is handling accusations that he slept with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.

Susan Davis, a USA Today reporter, tweeted Thursday afternoon that Reid referred questions about the scandal to Menendez himself, saying, “Any questions in this regard, direct to him. I don’t know anything about it.”

Davis said Reid was asked a question about a revelation Wednesday, first reported by WNBC-TV4 in New York City, that Menendez wrote a personal check to reimburse Dr. Salomon Melgen for private jet travel to the Dominican Republic. (RELATED: Menendez admits frequent Dominican travel, reimburses FBI-raided donor $58,500)

The FBI raided Melgen’s flagship eye clinic in South Florida on Tuesday night in what an FBI source told The Daily Caller is an inquiry related to Menendez. The Miami Herald, however, reported Wednesday night that the raid also may be part of a Medicare fraud investigation.

Fox News Radio reporter Jared Halpern added on Twitter that Reid also called Menendez “my friend and an outstanding senator.”

On Tuesday Reid was more combative and actively protected Menendez, lashing out at TheDC for reporting on the allegations against the New Jersey Democrat. (RELATED VIDEO: Reid attacks Daily Caller over prostitutes’ allegations against Menendez)

“I always consider the source,” Reid said, referring to TheDC, “and all anyone here has to look at is the source where this comes from. It’s — it’s a source that has brought up a lot of non-issues.”

Asked later for clarification, Reid’s office confirmed that he was attacking TheDC.

But on Thursday it was news outlets other than TheDC peppering Reid with questions.

Politico wrote that Reid cut off one question about whether Menendez had informed him he was reimbursing Melgen for his Dominican travel.

“That’s all I’m going to say,” Reid responded tersely, according to Politico. “I’m not going to say anything.”

Cox Radio reporter Jamie Dupree tweeted that Reid ignored one final question that a reporter asked at the end of his press conference: “Will Sen. Menendez be the next chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee?”

Menendez has not officially taken over the chairman’s gavel of that powerful committee, but he is expected to in coming weeks.

Democratic Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is expected to vacate that chairmanship and resign his Senate seat to become secretary of state. The full Senate confirmed his nomination to that post on Tuesday.

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