Trial of Democratic Senator Robert Menendez Could Recalibrate US Senate

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The friend, ophthalmologist Dr. Salomon Melgen, has been convicted on Medicare fraud charges and is waiting for sentencing.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) leaving the podium after speaking to the media during a news conference in Newark, New Jersey, April 1, 2015. Bob Menendez's corruption trial. Melgen was described in a recent prosecution brief as Menendez's "patron". But the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the verdict, raising the bar on what qualifies as an "official act" in this type of case.

His support comes as the Republican National Committee launches an online campaign seeking to pressure Democratic senators to vote Menendez out of office if he's convicted.

Abbe Lowell, Menendez's attorney, told jurors that friendship was the "true nature" of the senator's relationship with Melgen - not corruption.

According to prosecutors, Reid also reached out to an unnamed White House official for further assistance. Could they also call Reid or the unnamed White House official?

The Court suspects that the trial strategy behind this motion, if granted, would be to impress the jurors with the public importance of the defendant Senator and his duties.

The judge and attorney began to argue.

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The defense lawyer and judge started going back and forth, and at points talking over each other, culminating in Judge Walls interjecting, "Shut up for a moment if you don't mind".

Despite the intrigue surrounding his trial, Menendez is still fundraising and campaigning for re-election in 2018, and was defiant when arriving in federal court this morning, telling reporters, "I believe when all of the facts are known, I will be vindicated".

In his opening statement Wednesday, Abbe (AB'-ee) Lowell said Menendez was doing "what 535 members of Congress do all the time" in meeting with government officials on policy issues.

Finally, Menendez's "deep ties throughout the Democratic Party" could hurt other Democrats now or once in the U.S. Senate, America Rising contends.

Along with the legal ramifications for Menendez, the case carries potentially enormous political consequences for the balance of power in the United States Senate. In a political climate filled with narrow vote margins, an additional GOP senator could make a huge difference while the margin for Republicans' majority in the chamber is just two seats.

Republicans would use a potential conviction in ads against Democrats, but ultimately, there's little desire among Democrats to give the GOP a chance for a pickup because of Trump agenda items at stake, said University of Virginia Center for Politics director Larry Sabato. His successor would be appointed by the governor of New Jersey, now Republican Chris Christie.

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