Menendez fights charges in court, courts public outside
NEWARK » U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has spent about 30 hours over the last two weeks in a New Jersey courtroom fighting for his political career and freedom, while showing little sign outside the courtroom he’s in the middle of a federal corruption trial.
The New Jersey Democrat is defending himself against charges he lobbied government officials on behalf of a Florida eye doctor in exchange for campaign contributions and luxury vacations, and the trial is keeping him away from votes in Washington but not from Senate work entirely.
After prosecutors slammed him on the first day of the trial, Menendez attended a rally of about 100 people outside a federal building to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to end deportation protection for young immigrants living in the country illegally.
During a day of testimony from two women Menendez is accused of helping get visas as part of a bribery conspiracy, his Twitter account blasted out messages saying he was “outraged” at Equifax, the credit-rating agency that was hacked, exposing the Social Security numbers and other personal data of about 143 million Americans. Menendez said he will work to preserve the right to sue for those affected by the breach.
The flurry of tweets, news releases and public events comes as Menendez is fighting for his political future. Republicans are already trying to pressure Senate Democrats to call for Menendez’s resignation if he’s convicted, which would allow Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to choose his replacement to fill out his term. Menendez has pleaded not guilty.
His advisers say his work is an effort to persevere through an “unjust time in his life.”
“He has chosen to continue his fight for New Jersey while at the same time fighting to clear his good name, when most people under these conditions would’ve simply collapsed,” senior political adviser Mike Soliman said.
The spirited defense during the trial follows the script Menendez’s team has used since he was indicted in 2015.
The Associated Press