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Menendez’s indictment leads to weird GOP conspiracy theories (again)

After Bob Menendez’s first indictment, Republicans pushed an odd conspiracy theory. After his second indictment, they’ve come up with even weirder ideas.

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It’s easy to forget that when Sen. Bob Menendez was indicted the first time, during Barack Obama’s presidency, a striking number of Republicans — including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — publicly speculated about whether the New Jersey Democrat was being targeted because he was a skeptic of Obama’s policy toward Iran.

“It just doesn’t smell right,” Graham said at the time, suggesting that federal prosecutors might’ve been caught up in a bizarre conspiracy for which there was literally no evidence.

Such chatter was absurd at the time, and it fares no better in hindsight. But as Menendez faces a new round of criminal allegations, the right is back with a fresh set of conspiracy theories that make even less sense.

Some conservative media personalities, for example, have argued that the Justice Department is only prosecuting a Democratic senator in order to “create the appearance of impartiality so that they can continue their jihad against Donald Trump.” In other words, when federal prosecutors charge a Republican, it should be seen as evidence of bias against the GOP, and when federal prosecutors charge a Democrat, it should still be seen as evidence of bias against the GOP.

 Meanwhile, Alina Habba, a member of Trump’s legal team, appeared on Newsmax on Saturday and said, in reference to the Menendez indictment, “It’s completely, ‘Everybody look over here; we’re totally impartial. We’re trying to be fair.’ It’s fake. It’s fake news. It’s just like how they brought a felony charge for guns only against Hunter Biden. Why? Because it’s the only way they don’t have to dive into Joe Biden. This is more of the same. They’re fooling the American public.”

As for Capitol Hill, Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana appeared on Fox News to raise related suspicions.

“First of all, let me say I don’t trust anything coming out of the DOJ, and I would not put it beyond them to go after Menendez as like a sacrifice, whereby they could pretend that they would willingly and effectively investigate things like this.”

The far-right congressman went on to suggest the senator’s prosecution might be intended to give federal law enforcement “a little cover” for not doing more to assist the House Oversight Committee’s crusade against President Joe Biden.

The idea that the New Jersey Democrat might be corrupt, and that federal prosecutors charged Menendez because they have evidence of alleged criminal wrongdoing, apparently isn’t the predominant assumption in some GOP circles.

For his part, Lindsey Graham hasn’t yet joined the conspiratorial caucus, but with his track record in mind, it wouldn’t be too surprising if he came up with something soon.