Senior Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is on trial facing allegations of corruption.
The Department of Justice prosecuting attorney opened up the trial by claiming that Menendez "sold his office for a lifestyle he couldn't afford." Some have even compared the case to something that might make a plot for the television show "Scandal." Senator Menendez and his co-defendant each face multiple counts of conspiracy, fraud, and bribery, with most serious charges carrying a 20-year maximum prison sentence. The full indictment is available here.
Sordid details have continued to emerge in the corruption trial of Sen. Robert Menendez, with the latest testimony focused on charges that the senator influenced visa application approvals for his friend's mistresses. Menendez faces charges of bribery and corruption for official favors he provided to a wealthy donor while serving in the Senate. He is the first sitting senator in 36 years to face bribery charges. . . .
"Federal prosecutors allege New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez helped [three foreign] women obtain visas to the U.S. as a political favor for their boyfriend, the senator’s married friend and wealthy donor Dr. Salomon Melgen – just one of the favors Menendez allegedly did for the doctor in exchange for expensive hotel stays, flights on private jets, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in private campaign contributions," Bruce continued.
The Democratic senator’s friendship with Melgen is the key to his defense; the men's attorneys have argued that gifts Melgen bestowed on Menendez — private jet flights, villa stays in the Dominican Republic, an expensive Paris hotel room and hundreds of thousands in campaign donations — were tokens of friendship.
Likewise, defense lawyers argue, favors Menendez did for Melgen — advocating for the doctor at the highest levels of federal government for visas for his foreign girlfriends and on Melegn’s business issues — were because of their friendship and not part of a quid pro quo, as prosecutors allege.
If the jury finds Senator Menendez guilty, the Senator should resign or the Senator should move to expel him in unanimous, bipartisan action. Such alleged behavior is unbecoming and unacceptable from our public officials.