The Supreme Court has dashed Robert Menendez’ last hope to prevent the first trial of a sitting US Senator for corruption since Ted Stevens in 2008 (which was posthumously vacated). The top court refused to take the appeal of a Third District appellate ruling that refused to overturn Menendez’ April 2015 indictment on the basis of constitutional privilege under the Speech or Debate Clause. That leaves the door open to a trial in the fall, just as the three-term incumbent ramps up an expected re-election campaign in the midterms:
The Supreme Court has rejected Sen. Bob Menendez’s attempt to throw out the bribery and corruption charges against him, setting the stage for a trial for the New Jersey Democrat this fall.
With Monday’s announcement, Menendez can no longer block the proceedings against him from moving forward, a major setback for his efforts to avoid criminal trial.
The appellate court ruled that the benefits granted by Menendez to Salomon Melgen were too specific to him for a claim of privilege, Reuters recalls:
Prosecutors allege Menendez accepted campaign donations and gifts, including a stay at a Caribbean villa and private jet flights, from Melgen in exchange for interceding in various matters on his friend’s behalf, including an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute. Menendez and Melgen have pleaded not guilty to the charges they faced in the 22-count indictment. …
Last July, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that Menendez’s actions amounted to “essentially lobbying on behalf of a particular party,” and thus outside the “safe harbor” provided in the Constitution.
Full article: SCOTUS green-lights Menendez corruption trial « Hot Air