Democrat Senator Bob Menendez is about to go on trial for corruption in New Jersey and a federal judge has ordered he physically remain in the court room throughout the entire process.
Irritated, Menendez filed a request to the court asking if he could leave for votes in the Senate. Federal prosecutors did not mince words when issuingtheir opposition to the request and reminded him he isn't above the law simply because he is a U.S. Senator.
"After being indicted twice for depriving the people who elected him of their right to his honest services, defendant Robert Menendez now demands that this Court disrupt his criminal trial so that he can perform his duties as a United States Senator. Defendant Menendez was indicted in 2015 and 2016 for bribery, conspiracy, honest services fraud, false statements, and violating the Travel Act. Those indictments allege a seven-year bribery conspiracy in which he traded the power of his public office for a lavish lifestyle that included private jet rides and vacations in Paris and the Caribbean," they wrote in a response. "The only reason defendant Menendez’s trial is scheduled for September 2017, almost two-and-a-half years after he was first indicted by a grand jury, is because he has spent that time pursuing a meritless argument that the Constitution immunizes him from prosecution—an argument that has been rejected by every judge to have considered it. Now he seeks to use his status as a United States Senator to pick and choose the dates on which his criminal trial will be conducted."
"This is not the first time defendant Menendez has sought special treatment from this Court. At defendant Menendez’s very first appearance, he asked to be exempted from the routine requirement that defendants surrender their personal passports because of his status as a United States Senator," the response continues. "This case began with defendant Menendez being treated like any other defendant, and it should end that way....only a United States Senator can try to hide behind the very office he corrupted to avoid accountability to the public for his actions."
If Menendez is convicted, the issue of resignation will certainly be a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill. Democrats are reportedly circling the wagons around Menendez and will not demand he leave his position. If resignation occurs or if Menendez ends up doing time in prison, Republican Governor Chris Christie will appoint someone to replace him, shifting the balance of power in the Senate.