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Prosecutors: Sen. Menendez 'sold his office' for ritzy trips

Prosecutors: Sen. Menendez 'sold his office' for ritzy trips

Robert Menendez, D-N.J., begins on Wednesday, the first time a USA senator faces bribery charges in almost four decades and a case that could affect the balance of power in the Senate, NBC News reported. Prosecutors accuse him of soliciting and accepting free trips on Salomon Melgen's private jet to luxurious resorts in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere, hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to help his 2012 reelection campaign, and other gifts to sustain a lavish lifestyle.

Saloon Melgen, 59, is a Florida ophthalmologist and Dominican native who settled in the United States in 1980.

Menendez is accused of aiding Melgen's personal and business affairs, including helping the doctor's foreign girlfriends get visas to visit the US. "If Democrats don't call for a convicted felon to resign immediately and instead force taxpayers to keep paying his salary, that's a debate we're ready to have".

Christie has said that Menendez is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Menendez's trial is expected to last six to eight weeks in Newark, New Jersey.

Second, in the event that Menendez is convicted - a potential outcome that was bolstered by last week's Department of Justice brief that Menendez has concealed up to a dozen trips paid for by Melgen which he failed to report and the possibility that Melgen could provide evidence against him in return for a lighter sentence - Senate Democrats will be forced to make a hard choice: Vote to expel Menendez from the Senate and lose a Democrat vote, or be subjected to wilting public criticism over hypocricy. Bob Menendez's (D-N.J.) corruption trial, but they neglected to mention his Democratic Party affiliation.

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The tense exchange started when defense attorney Raymond Brown criticized the judge for rejecting a motion from the defense to allow the trial to be recessed when "critical" votes are scheduled in the U.S. Senate.

Menendez denies any wrongdoing and said outside the courthouse Wednesday that he never "dishonored" his public office.

Along with picking three more jurors needed before opening statements could begin, the morning featured some sparring between defense attorneys for Menendez and Judge William Walls.

Booker's political action committee donated $10,000 to Menendez's legal defense fund in 2015. Similarly, Menendez's interest in port security in the Dominican Republic stemmed from a concern that potential USA -supplied screening equipment wouldn't be used correctly, he said.

A conviction could potentially alter the makeup of a deeply divided U.S. Senate. His successor would be appointed by New Jersey's current Republican governor, Chris Christie, giving Republicans an extra voice in the Senate and perhaps shifting the political climate. Barack Obama calling for Republican U.S. Sen.

Menendez, 63, is accused of using his political power to advocate for Melgen, a campaign donor, in exchange for his sizable donations and gifts.

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