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Update, September 22, 2023: Senator Robert Menendez and his wife, Nadine, have been charged with taking bribes—including in the form of cash and gold bars—to aid three New Jersey men and the Egyptian government in a scheme involving halal meat, military officials, and a no-show job. The prosecutors allege, as my colleague Dan Friedman reports, that Menendez’s wife ”worked to introduce Egyptian intelligence and military officials to” the senator “for the purpose of establishing and solidifying a corrupt agreement.” In a statement on the prosecution, the senator said officials had “misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office.” He added, “On top of that, not content with making false claims against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had before she and I even met.”

The post has been updated to reflect there is a 12th interesting thing about Menendez’s proposal—that his marriage was later involved in a federal indictment.

Update, October 12, 2023: In a superseding indictment, Menendez was charged with conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent for Egypt. This post has been updated to reflect that prosecutors allege the senator offered to assist Egypt in September 2019 during a trip to India. This is the same trip on which Menendez proposed by singing a song from The Greatest Showman in front of the Taj Mahal.

To celebrate those who got married in 2020, the Styles section of the Sunday New York Times included their “favorite” stories of how people proposed. Among them is the story of how Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey popped the question in December to his girlfriend, Nadine Arslanian, described by Politico as “an international businesswoman from Bergen County.”

I want to list a few things about that proposal and about this story. These items are factual, according to the paper of record:

1. Menendez “sings all the time,” according to his bride. “He sings every morning, every night, and in-between while he smokes his after-dinner cigar.”

2. Menendez met his future wife at the IHOP in Union City, New Jersey.

3. Menendez was introduced “by the owner” of the IHOP to his wife.

4. Menendez was engaged five months later.

5. Menendez and his wife visited four continents in five months and he sang to her on each trip.

6. Menendez was “very, very hot” upon first sight, according to his wife.

7. Menendez proposed at the Taj Mahal.

8. Menendez stood behind his future bride at the Princess Diana bench and sang to her, as a prelude to his proposal at the Taj Mahal.

9. Menendez—who long hinted that “a certain song” would let her know the engagement was coming—sang “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman, the film released in 2017 in which Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum, as a prelude to his proposal at the Taj Mahal.

10. Here is the video of that moment.

11. Despite the proposal taking place in front of the Taj freaking Mahal, the whole vibe here is so very Jersey that you wonder why Frankie Valli isn’t there

12. In 2023, over two years after this post was published, both Menendez and his wife were charged in a federal corruption indictment for a bribery scheme involving halal meat and Egyptian military officials. In a superseding indictment, prosecutors alleged that during Menedez’s trip to India to propose—see above video of himn singing in front of Taj Mahal—the senator “offered to provide his assistance to Egypt.”

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