No way out
It’s been two years since Sen. Menendez was indicted on corruption charges and try as he might, he can’t seem to get himself out of this mess.
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 pair were charged with 18 counts of bribery and fraud.
Scheduled to begin Wednesday, Menendez’s request for breaks in the trial so he would be able to scoot down to D.C. to cast votes was denied by a federal judge.
In a decision made public on Friday, U.S. District Judge William Walls in Newark, New Jersey, rejected Menendez’s claim that he deserved special treatment because he had a “constitutional duty” to be in Washington for his constituents.
Walls said he suspected the request was part of a strategy to “impress the jurors” with Menendez’s importance, but that it was speculative to suggest the senator would miss key votes.
“The court will not serve as concierge to any party or lawyer,” Walls wrote. “The motion – from a practical perspective – is nigh frivolous.”
Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Menendez, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The senator’s press secretary had no immediate comment.
Menendez, 63, is charged with accepting improper campaign donations and gifts, including luxury trips and private jet flights, from co-defendant Salomon Melgen in exchange for lobbying on the wealthy Florida ophthalmologist’s behalf.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to fraud and bribery. Menendez is running for a third Senate term next year.
Menendez appealed to the Supreme Court to dismiss the charges, but they refused to do so in March.
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