Menendez faces Senate ethics probe after mistrial

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The Senate Ethics Committee will resume its investigation into Sen. Bob Menendez, a transfer that got here simply hours after a mistrial was introduced within the New Jersey Democrat’s bribery and corruption case.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had known as for an ethics probe of Menendez as quickly as a mistrial was declared by U.S. District Judge William Walls. The impbade within the legal proceedings was an enormous authorized victory for Menendez, who grew emotional as he spoke in regards to the case with reporters.

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With incoming New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and different high state officers pledging their loyalty to him — and Menendez instantly trying like an incumbent able to announce his reelection fairly than a legal defendant making an attempt to keep away from jail — the ethics probe means Menendez will nonetheless have this case hanging over him nicely into 2018.

Still, Menendez’s workplace expressed confidence he’ll overcome additional investigations.

“The Ethics Committee will come to no different conclusion than this jury did,” stated Fred Turner, Menendez’s chief of workers. “There is no merit to further pursuing this matter.”

The Justice Department may additionally search a retrial for Menendez, though the probabilities of that taking place are unclear and the Ethics Committee is now shifting ahead.

“In 2012, the Committee initiated a preliminary inquiry into alleged misconduct by Senator Robert Menendez,” the Ethics Committee stated in a bipartisan badertion from all six members, together with Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Vice Chairman Chris Coons (D-Del.). “In early 2013, consistent with its precedent and in consideration of the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation, the Committee deferred its inquiry. At this time, the Committee intends to resume its process.”

Any proof offered by prosecutors or the protection workforce on the trial can be utilized by the Ethics Committee.

The information got here as senators have been nonetheless wrestling with the beautiful information of the jury’s stalemate, which ended — for now — a 5 12 months ordeal for Menendez.

McConnell, nevertheless, moved shortly Thursday.

Menendez “is one of only twelve U.S. senators to have been indicted in our history. His trial shed light on serious accusations of violating the public’s trust as an elected official, as well as potential violations of the Senate’s Code of Conduct,” McConnell stated in an announcement. “Because of the seriousness of these charges, I am calling on the Senate Ethics committee to immediately investigate Senator Menendez’s actions which led to his indictment.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declined to touch upon the mistrial within the Menendez case or McConnell’s requires an ethics probe. The Ethics Committee is evenly cut up between Republicans and Democrats, so no probe can go ahead with out bipartisan help.

Meanwhile, Menendez’s colleagues have been cautiously optimistic that the Justice Department would forgo one other trial.

“I think he went through hell with this,” stated Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “That’s enough.”

Feinstein added: “The charges were not proven. Therefore, he should be able to come back and carry on.”

“I prosecuted an awful lot of cases, and from what I’ve seen, it did not look like they had a strong case, especially in light of the [Bob McDonnell] precedent,” stated Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who was a state prosecutor earlier than he was elected to the Senate. “In my experience, prosecutors don’t retry it. But that I’m not going to try to suggest to the prosecutors what they should do.”

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared as character witnesses for Menendez through the trial.

“The Bob Menendez that I know is an honest, forthright person. That’s what I said in my testimony,” Graham stated. “I’m happy for Bob. We’ll see what the government does. They have a right to bring back the charges. It’s up to them.”

Menendez and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a longtime buddy and donor, have been indicted in April 2015. The Justice Department charged Menendez with taking official acts on Melgen’s behalf in trade for personal jet flights, resort rooms and practically $750,000 in marketing campaign contributions on to the New Jersey Democrat or political organizations that supported him.

In flip, Menendez intervened in a multimillion-dollar Medicare billing dispute on Melgen’s behalf, helped obtained visas for a number of Melgen girlfriends, and lobbied State Department officers relating to a $500 million port safety contract Melgen firm had with the Dominican Republic.

Melgen, 63, has been convicted within the Medicare billing dispute and is awaiting sentencing.

After a nine-week trial, and practically two weeks of jury deliberations, U.S. District Judge William Walls declared a mistrial, an enormous authorized victory for Menendez.

One juror informed reporters afterward that there was a 10-2 cut up in favor of acquittal, saying prosecutors had “no smoking gun” for proving bribery between Menendez and Melgen.

Menendez, although, admitted in 2013 that he had taken flights on Melgen’s jet and didn’t declare them, a possible violation of Senate ethics guidelines. Menendez later repaid Melgen $58,000 as soon as the flights have been reported by the media.

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