Sen. Blumenthal was a hunk (Throwback Thursday!)


Richard Blumenthal poses for a portrait in Washington, D.C. on February 21, 1980. Blumenthal has been hired to investigate the ABSCAM news leaks. (Photo by John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Oh, hello there, senator!

We came across this vintage 1980 portrait of now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal while digging through the Post’s archives for coverage of the Abscam scandal (which, of course, has been in the news of late, since it was glamorized in the move “American Hustle.”) Back then, Blumenthal was a federal prosecutor tasked with investigating leaks to the media in the Abscam sting, an FBI operation aimed at busting corrupt officials.

The young lawyer apparently attracted the attention of the Post (and of the women of Washington, too). “He looks rather like a Jewish Robert Redford in a suit and tie, and evidently has prompted a fair share of female hearts to flutter,” the Post swooned in a lengthy feature of the then-34 year-old.

Blumenthal tells us that the story – and that line of it in particular — earned him a hard time among his colleagues.  “I recall at the time that the FBI team I was working with — a really great bunch of agents — gave me a huge dose of ribbing,” he tells us. “We had a good time with it.”

And in what might seem unimaginable in these days of self-Googling, Blumenthal remembers that he left Washington for Chicago the day the story was printed, and he didn’t see it until days later.

Of the movie “American Hustle,” he says he watched it and enjoyed it, though he cautions that viewers shouldn’t take it as a history lesson. “It’s wonderful entertainment and great fiction with only a faint resemblance to the truth,” he says.

And the 1980 story seems prescient: “Some people who know him think he wants to be president, or senator, or at least secretary of state,” it reads. But Blumenthal insists he’s surprised to be where he is today. “I never, at that point, envisioned the life I have now, not just as a senator, but as a husband and a father.”

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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