In 2008, Sen. Bob Menendez sent a letter of support to the State Department to get two women from the Dominican Republic a U.S. visa, and one of these women happened to be the girlfriend of a wealthy eye doctor who prosecutors say bribed the Democratic senator with gifts and luxury vacations in exchange for favors. At least, that’s what Menendez’s former staffer, Mark Lopes, said while testifying against his old boss in court on Monday.
Today, Menendez and his wealthy friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen, face 18 counts of bribery and fraud. Both say they’re innocent of wrongdoing. Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud earlier this year and was the single largest Medicare recipient in 2012 — snagging a cool $21 million that year. At the heart of the case against the eye doctor is a $8.9 million billing dispute, which is when prosecutors say Melgen asked Menendez to intervene with the government on his behalf.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, may chose another Republican to replace Menendez if his seat becomes vacant, which would affect the political makeup of the U.S. Senate. Yet Democrats are busy pretending like everything is fine.
“Should a convicted felon be allowed to serve in the Senate?” a Republican operative recently asked Sen. Kamala Harris, over and over again, in the video below. Her response? Silence.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) refuses to answer if ‘convicted felon’ should be in Senate — 10 times pic.twitter.com/wHeiGThS5t
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) September 11, 2017
She’s not the only Democrat who’s being tight-lipped about the trial. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Menendez was issuing a “spirited defense” and refused to speculate about the potential outcomes of the trial or subsequent political consequences. Sen. Joe Manchin and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey also kept quiet when asked about Menendez’s case.