Sen. Bob Menendez’s new lawyer is a fellow member of the bar association—and we’re not talking about his legal credentials.
The embattled Garden State senator faces charges that, among other things, he and his wife accepted slabs of prospectors’ treasure to do the bidding of shady New Jersey businessmen and Egyptian intelligence agents. And a nugget pulled from federal court filings show he’s hired an attorney with a rich trove of personal experience: Robert “Gold Bars” Luskin.
Luskin, who supervised the Abscam probe immortalized in the movie American Hustle, vaulted to national prominence in 2005 as defense counsel for GOP strategist Karl Rove. A Democrat himself, he had previously repped Clinton aide Mark Middleton and gained some minor notoriety for being the first lawyer to ever wear an earring while arguing in front of the Supreme Court.
That 1995 ear-bling incident wouldn’t be the last time Luskin’s glittering tastes provoked a scandal. He earned his gilded moniker two years later, when then-U.S. Attorney Sheldon Whitehouse—now Menendez’s colleague in the Senate—accused the attorney of “willful blindness” for accepting more than half a million dollars in gold bars as payment from a client convicted of using his Rhode Island precious metals business to launder money for a Colombian drug cartel.
Luskin settled with the feds a year later by coughing up almost a quarter-million in fees.
Neither Luskin nor the senator’s office responded to questions about whether the two Bobs have ever bonded over their shared interest in ingots, or whether the lawyer would receive payment in bullion.
Menendez has panned the Potomac for attorneys in hopes of hitting the same streak of luck that got him out of corruption charges in 2017. His attorney at the time was veteran Democratic Party counsel Marc Elias, who the senator’s campaign continued to pay through August of this year.
But Elias was nowhere to be seen at Menendez’s arraignment in September, where he was represented by lawyers from Luskin’s firm, Paul Hastings, and from the firm Winston & Strawn—the home of Hunter Biden attorney Abbe Lowell. But Menendez split with the second firm late last week, according to Politico, shortly before bringing Luskin aboard.
Now the golden boys will face a federal judge and jury together when the corruption case heads to trial this coming May.