Will head to court in September
It’s been almost two years since Sen. Bob Menendez was indicted by a grand jury and charged with fourteen felony counts of criminal corruption.
The Democratic Senator from New Jersey was investigated by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and accused of using his federal office to help wealthy dentist and long-time friend and campaign donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen by attempting to sway policy that would be favorable to Melgen’s business.
The video primer:
From the New York Times (April 1, 2015):
The charges had long been expected and Mr. Menendez, a 61-year-old Democrat of New Jersey, has promised to fight them. He has offered no indication that he plans to step down or relinquish any power while he goes through that process.
The case involves Mr. Menendez’s longtime friendship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida eye surgeon and political benefactor. The two men became friends in the 1990s and have spent holidays together in the Dominican Republic, where Dr. Melgen, 60, has a home in the gated oceanfront resort of Casa de Campo.
Prosecutors say Dr. Melgen lavished the senator with gifts, including two round-trip flights worth $58,000 aboard his private jet. In turn, prosecutors say that Mr. Menendez used his Senate seat to help Dr. Melgen when he, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, encouraged the Obama administration to change the Medicare reimbursement policy in a way that would make millions for the doctor.
Mr. Menendez said the Medicare debate was a legitimate policy discussion, not a personal favor. The Finance Committee oversees Medicare finances. He says the gifts he received from Dr. Melgen should be reviewed in the context of their long friendship.
Sen. Menendez vowed to fight the charges and did. Menendez appealed to the Supreme Court arguing that “a Philadelphia appeals court misinterpreted the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, which bars the executive and judicial branches from questioning a member of Congress about legislative activity.”
The Supreme Courtwho dismissed Mendendez’s appeal Monday without comment.:
With Monday’s announcement, Menendez can no longer block the proceedings against him from moving forward, a major setback for his efforts to avoid criminal trial.
Abbe Lowell, Menendez’s lead defense attorney, said the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal was “disappointing,” but still said Menendez will be “vindicated when all the facts are heard at trial.”
“It’s disappointing that the Supreme Court did not take this opportunity to set a clear, bright line of the separation of powers to ensure that Congress remains an independent and co-equal branch of government, free of interference and retribution from the executive as the Framers intended,” Lowell said in a statement. “While the senator always understood it is rare that the Supreme Court hears any case before trial, given the gravity of the Constitutional issues raised, he believed it was important to try.”
Lowell added: “As the senator has been saying for more than four years since the government began chasing these wild allegations, he has always acted in accordance with the law. Sen. Menendez remains confident that he will be vindicated when all the facts are heard at trial.”
Menendez will go to trial in September.
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