If Wednesday is any indication of how the corruption trail of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is going to go, then he is in very big trouble.
On Wednesday prosecutors began to lay out their case against Menendez. Their argument includes; sex, copious amounts of alcohol and possibly drugs, and lavish trips around the globe. The one thing we seem to know for sure is that Menendez likes to live the good life and his government salary was no obstacle to his libido.
For nearly an hour, Peter Koski, deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, set forth the prosecution’s case against Menendez and Melgen in colorful detail, speaking directly to the jury without any notes.
“This case is about a corrupt politician who sold his Senate office for a life of luxury he couldn’t afford and a greedy doctor who put that senator on his payroll,” Koski said.
Comparing Menendez’s lifestyle to one that “reads like a travel brochure for the rich and famous,” Koski told jurors that Menendez personally intervened in a number of business disputes that Melgen had with federal authorities in exchange for lavish gifts and large campaign donations.
“This is what bribery looks like,” Koski said, adding that “Senator Menendez was Salomon Melgen’s personal United States Senator.”
The overwhelming amount of evidence against their client isn’t the only problem that the defense has to worry about.
On Thursday, Menendez’s lawyers actually managed to offend the Judge trying the case by implying that he had gone out of his way to prejudice the jury against their client.
U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls told a lawyer for Sen. Robert Menendez to “shut up for a moment” as the two engaged in a heated argument during the first moments of the New Jersey Democrat’s corruption trial.
Shortly after court proceedings began, defense attorney Raymond Brown criticized Judge William H. Walls for a line in his opinion on Friday that rejected Menendez’s request that the trial be recessed on days where the Senate is taking “critical” votes, so that the senator can be in Washington.
“Quite frankly, your honor, that language is extremely prejudicial to the defense and it comes form the court. I think the court has disparaged the defense,” Menendez attorney Raymond Brown said..
“Shut up for a moment if you don’t mind,” Walls said. “I said what I said” to “underscore what I considered the lack of merits in this motion,” Walls added.
Walls said he “didn’t disparage you.”
“Now I feel quasi-insulted. You tell me where I have ever speculated to affect the interest of a defendant before a jury,” Walls said. “I want you to tell me where I have done something that reasonable jurors and lawyers would consider speculative and proactive.”
Menendez’s attorney requested that the lines be struck from Walls’ opinion. Walls denied the request.
Not a great start for Team Menendez or the Democrat Party. The other Senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker (D-NJ) was also in attendance, showing solidarity with his corrupt compatriot.
There are whispers that several members of the Party are beginning to worry about the ripple effects that the Menendez trial could have on the party at large, particularly if other members of Congress get caught up in Menendez’s web of lies.