nsucurrent.com February 20, 2018

Menendez corruption case puts other Democrats at legal risk

07 September 2017, 01:57 | Colleen Roy

NJ's Menendez Set for Rare Senate Corruption Trial

Sen. Bob Menendez D-N.J. arrives on Capitol Hill Washington for a closed-door meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis

Menendez is up for re-election next year.

"I have committed my entire adult life, since I was 19, to fighting for the people of New Jersey", Menendez, 63, said in emotional remarks before entering the courthouse.

On "Fox & Friends", Bre Payton, staff writer at The Federalist, said the mainstream media is largely ignoring the Menendez trial, due to their "fundamental bias". Melgen was described in a recent prosecution brief as Menendez's "patron".

In exchange, Menendez pressed government officials to help his doctor friend, who will also be on trial, with his business and personal affairs - including procuring United States visas for Melgen's three young girlfriends, the feds have said.

The trial will loom large over the gubernatorial and senatorial elections this year in the Garden State, which is reliably Democratic thanks in large part to a handful of counties in the North.

In a pretrial motion, defendant's counsel requested a break from the trial when "critical" senate votes were occurring. Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska was the last sitting US senator to go on trial.

In proposed juror instructions filed by the defense over Labor Day weekend, attorneys described the high legal bar for the charges brought by the Justice Department against the men.

As a 20-something political upstart in New Jersey, Robert Menendez sat in a witness box in federal court - so fearful of retribution he wore a bullet-proof vest - and pointed a finger at his political mentor: William V. Musto, the mayor of Union City.

Booker chatted with Menendez during a break in the court proceedings Wednesday.

In return, prosecutors say, Menendez tried to help Melgen settle an $8.9 million debt he owed Medicare for overbilling, secure student and travel visas for Melgen's girlfriends, and work out a port contract dispute.

The trial is expected to last up to two months, and will likely feature testimony from former Obama administration officials who say they were pressured by Menendez to help Melgen. Menendez, New Jersey's senior US senator, later lied about the trips on Senate disclosure forms, Koski said.

Melgen was convicted in April of defrauding Medicare, but prosecutors say they don't plan to tell the Newark jury about that conviction "unless the defense opens the door".

Defense attorneys said the two met in 1992 - 14 years before prosecutors say the bribery scheme began.

Attorney Ray Brown accused Walls of disparaging Menendez in his opinion denying Menendez's motion to postpone the trial on days of important Senate votes. Gov. Chris Christie, the New Jersey Republican governor, would have the power to appoint a new senator, between now and January 2018 when Christie's term ends.

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