Menendez corruption case puts other Democrats at legal risk, sidelines senator for trial

The Washington Times | 9/4/2017 | Staff
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As Sen. Robert Menendez prepares to face corruption charges, Republicans are confident and Democrats fearful that the taint of a weekslong trial will snare other prominent Democrats in New Jersey and Washington.

The trial kicks off Wednesday in New Jersey, where the 11-year incumbent senator is accused of using his office to try to assist and protect a longtime friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen, in disputes with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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One high-profile Democrat already has been caught in the backwash. Former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who retired last year, was fingered as trying to help Mr. Menendez in his efforts to derail a federal probe of Melgen.

“Who knows who else will be implicated, but it’s clear now that the corruption extended beyond Menendez’s office,” said Michael Ahrens, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “It’s just as stunning that no Senate Democrat has said Menendez should resign immediately if convicted.”

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Mr. Menendez had asked the judge to allow him to skip out on the trial so he could be in Washington for upcoming votes. The judge rejected his request, saying he is no different from any other worker whose schedule is set by others but who has to be in court to face prosecutors.

In a detailed statement last week, those prosecutors outlined the case against Mr. Menendez, whom they indicted in 2015 on accusations of taking roughly $1 million in gifts — including airplane flights and stays at lavish resorts and hotels frequented by Hollywood A-listers such as George Clooney and Beyonce — in exchange for political favors for Melgen.

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Prosecutors say Mr. Menendez helped Melgen obtain visas for girlfriends from Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Ukraine. It also said Mr. Menendez used his office to try to shield his friend from accusations that he overbilled millions of dollars in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Washington Times
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