A Democrat Senator’s ongoing legal battle could prove to have huge consequences for his party.
Senator Bob Menendez may be held from voting on a number of key pieces of legislation due to court hearings and appearances.
Per Fox News:
The upcoming bribery trial for New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez could have damaging consequences for his party whether or not he’s convicted, by sidelining him from Congress just as Democrats gear up to fight the Trump agenda.
The senator is now pleading with a federal judge to alter the trial schedule on certain days so he can return to Washington to vote.
Each time the Democrat Senator has tried to reschedule the court hearings, the judge has rejected the request:
So far, however, the court has rejected these requests, which the Trump Justice Department has decried as a bid for “special treatment.”
The timing of the trial, set to begin Sept. 6, is critical. It would fall as Congress returns from the August recess and Republicans prepare to vote on President Trump’s legislative agenda — potentially covering everything from tax reform to health care to the budget and debt ceiling.
If the Democrat cannot return to Congress in a timely manner, his inability to vote could cost the Democrats:
Neither party can afford to lose a single member from the Senate floor. Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority, and it’s possible the absence of a single reliable Democratic vote could tip the balance on key votes this fall, including possibly another attempt at repealing President Obama’s health care law.
Mindful of this, Menendez earlier this week asked for a trial delay, along with other possible alternative concessions, only to be denied by U.S. District Judge William Walls. While Menendez would be free to skip his trial to attend Senate session, doing so could hurt his standing at the trial — a scenario he’s trying to avoid.
The judge denied Menendez’s appeal because the law is blind to “wealth or title”:
“A bedrock principle of our criminal justice system is that the law does not recognize wealth or title. Many defendants try to evade their criminal trials—but only a United States Senator can try to hide behind the very office he corrupted to avoid accountability to the public for his actions. Every defendant should be treated equally, and no defendant should receive special treatment based on power or privilege. This Court should reject defendant Menendez’s effort to let politics in Washington dictate the trial schedule in Newark.”