The corruption trial of Democrat New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez will soon begin.
Menendez faces a dozen counts.
In a strange act, the judge in charge of the trial didn’t allow journalists to view the arraignment of Senator Menendez.
“The media was barred from US Sen. Bob Menendez’s arraignment on bribery charges in New Jersey on Tuesday morning.
Arraignment proceedings are almost always open to the public, with the main exception being when the identity of a government informant must be kept secret.
The Newark federal judge overseeing the uber-connected Menendez’s arraignment, William Walls, did not explain to the press why the senator’s proceeding was held behind closed doors.
As many as 15 journalists were inexplicably barred from entering the fourth-floor courtroom, where Menendez pleaded not guilty to an updated indictment filed last year.”
More significantly, the trial has the potential to change the balance of the power in the U.S. Senate.
“Indicted in 2015, Menendez faces a dozen corruption-related counts, tied to gifts including private flights, lavish vacations to the Dominican Republic and Paris, and more than $750,000 in campaign contributions that he received from a friend, Florida eye doctor Solomon Melgen, who is also charged in the case.
Prosecutors allege that in exchange for that largesse, Menendez extended his clout in Washington to benefit Melgen’s business interests, including pressure the senator exerted on federal officials to adopt a policy that would help Melgen fight a $9 million Medicare overbilling dispute with the government.
Menendez also urged the Obama administration to take steps that would tilt a business dispute in the Dominican Republic in Melgen’s favor and tried to help the doctor secure visas for overseas girlfriends.
For their part, Menendez and Melgen maintain that their friendship has been misunderstood.”
The stakes of this trial are huge.
If Menendez is forced to resign from the U.S. Senate, Governor Chris Christie would appoint his replacement.
If his replacement is a Republican, the balance of power would shift more toward Republicans.
If the Republican appointed is conservative, the balance of power would shift further away from Liberal Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
In just a couple of months, President Trump could get another Republican in the Senate voting for his agenda.