07 September, 2017
Bob Menendez's federal corruption trial Wednesday has hung a question mark on the future of his Senate seat, and national Republicans have already begun pushing for his ouster if he's convicted. Menendez's meetings with Health and Human Services officials - including former department Secretary Kathleen Sebelius - regarding Medicare reimbursement policies were aimed at correcting billing inconsistencies, a concern shared by other senators, Lowell told jurors. When all the facts are known, Menendez said, he will be "vindicated".
The expected eight-week trial could also force Menendez to choose between appearing in court and being in Washington for votes. He won a full term later that year and was re-elected in 2012.
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 pre-trial proceedings, Menendez's team fought hard for the court to accommodate his schedule, even requesting that the court delay proceedings until October to accommodate the start of the Senate session Tuesday - the day before the trial is due to commence. Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska was the last sitting USA senator to go on trial. "Prosecutors at the Justice Department don't know the difference between friendship and corruption", he said when the charges were filed in 2015.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez takes questions after a news conference about flood insurance in Union Beach, N.J., on August 17.More news: Cowboys-Texans preseason game canceled due to Hurricane Harvey
Booker chatted with Menendez during a break in the court proceedings Wednesday. Among the gifts prosecutors say Melgen gave Menendez were flights on Melgen's private jet, vacations at Melgen's private villa in the Dominican Republic frequented by celebrities like Beyonce and Jay Z, and a three-night stay at a luxury Paris hotel valued at almost $5,000. The judge said he was not privy to special, or "preferential treatment" simply because he was a US senator. In April, Melgen was convinced of defrauding Medicare. Robert Menendez's bribery trial on Wednesday to support his fellow New Jersey Democrat.
The digital ad push, which will run on Facebook and Twitter, presses Democratic leaders in Congress, Senate Democrats up for 2018 re-election in states President Donald Trump won and Democratic senators, like Warren, who are rumored to be considering 2020 presidential bids, to answer whether to believe Menendez should keep his U.S. Senate seat if convicted.
Walls also chided defense attorneys for filing a motion on what to include in jury instructions at the end of the trial. Walls continually interrupted to deny the allegation.
Menendez's attorney, Raymond Brown, did not take kindly to Judge Walls's opinion.