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    Jury to decide Democrat Sen. Menendez’s fate

    Jury to decide Democrat Sen. Menendez’s fate

    Will Democrats bail if he’s convicted?

    The closing arguments have been made in the bribery and corruption trial for New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. It’s now up to a jury to decide his fate.

    Menendez was charged with 18 counts of bribery and corruption for allegedly using his office to provide political favors to a big-moneyed donor.

    Even if Menendez is convicted, he could remain in the Senate. Expulsion from the Senate requires a 2/3 majority and it’s as of yet unclear how Democrats will respond to a guilty verdict. Politico explores:

    With Menendez’s fate likely to be decided within days, Democrats are already quietly strategizing on how to respond if he’s found guilty. They will be in no rush to expel or force Menendez out of office, even if a Democrat wins the New Jersey gubernatorial race, according to several Democratic senators and aides.

    …Menendez has refused to say whether he’d resign if convicted. If he is found guilty, Senate Republicans are expected to quickly try to expel him from the Senate, giving GOP Gov. Chris Christie a chance to name a Republican replacement for the Democratic lawmaker.

    But expelling Menendez — even if he is convicted of a felony — might not be that easy.

    Republicans need a two-thirds majority in the Senate to agree to expel a member, which means they would need Democratic votes. With partisan tensions so high — Democrats are still bitter that Republicans denied President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland the seat last year, among a host of other issues — they are in no mood to cooperate with the GOP majority.

    In addition, New Jersey voters are about to pick a new governor. Democrat Phil Murphy is leading in the polls. If Murphy wins and takes office in January, he could replace Menendez with a Democrat, so the party would have incentive to delay rather than allow Christie to choose a new senator.

    Democrats might even support Menendez staying in office even if Murphy takes over as governor. In private, several Democratic senators and aides said they’re not feeling any political pressure yet to cut ties to Menendez if he’s convicted. That might change if he’s found guilty, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and President Donald Trump — joined by editorial pages across the country — turn up the heat on them. But for now, Democrats remain committed to supporting Menendez through at least January, if not longer.

    Democratic leaders, though, would almost certainly balk if Menendez is convicted and still tries to run for reelection. They likely would only allow him to stay in the Senate during an appeals process if he commits to leaving in January 2019.

    “I don’t know if we’d be in a hurry to get rid of Bob,” said a Senate Democrat who is up for reelection in 2018. “It would be a tough vote for folks like me, but I think the rest of the caucus would stick with him.”

    Menendez has appealed every step of the way, requesting delays and dismissals too. If convicted, he’ll likely appeal again, leaving Democrats with even more to consider — wait until the appeals process is over or move immediately.

    We’ve covered the Menendez scandal for the last few years. Those posts can be found here.

    Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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    ugottabekiddinme | November 6, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    As I recall from the previous coverage, one legal argument the defense has made, and the judge rebuffed, rests on a legal interpretation of at least one of the main statutes underlying the prosecution, to the effect that there was no quid pro quo shown. The judge, as I recall, said it was up to the jury to decide if the dots of evidence sufficiently connect up or not.

    If the jury acquits, judge is done without sticking his neck out. But it also tells me that even if the jury convicts, the judge can revisit that legal ruling, and he can now decide as a matter of law that, “well, whaddya know . . . not enough evidence of a quid pro quo, so jury got it wrong” and reverse the conviction. I know if I were defending and the jury convicted I’d sure as heck trot out that argument, asking the judge to “correct the runaway jury.”

    The dems will go along with expelling him from the senate because if they don’t, his vote will simply disappear. On the other hand, if a Republican is appointed to take his place, they’ll at least have someone they can intimidate or bribe into doing things their way.

    From their point of view, getting rid of Menendez is a no-lose situation. For the Republicans, it’s somewhat the opposite. They are the ones who should simply leave him in place, rather than risk Christie replacing him with someone as bad as Christie himself.

      gospace in reply to irv. | November 6, 2017 at 11:37 pm

      I don’t think they will vote to expel him. Because they still think they control the message. Their refusal to vote a felon out of the Senate will be photo memed all over the internet in SEP/OCT 2018. And it won’t be good for them.

      “…if a Republican is appointed to take his place, they’ll at least have someone they can intimidate or bribe..”

      Amazing how we have collectively allowed that reality.

      Destroy the GOPe.

    Dems say they won’t make him resign (in order to hold onto the seat until gov. Christie is out of office), to which I say “fine.” We’ll just beat you over the head with your obvious corruption for the next year, or until you surrender.

    It is pathetic, How corruption & ” Lawless,” behaviour is tolerate & accepted as ” Normal behaviour,” in Dem. circles. Do any honest people run for office, That can’t be corrupted ?

    It is pathetic, How corruption & ” Lawless,” behaviour is tolerate & accepted as ” Normal behaviour,” in Dem. circles. Do any honest people run for office, That can’t be corrupted ?

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