Menendez’s defiant message for ‘those who were digging my political grave’

NEWARK — Relieved but not officially vindicated, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez stood in front of federal courthouse on Thursday and delivered a blunt message to anyone thinking he’d been weakened by his 2 1/2-month corruption trial that had just ended in a hung jury.

"To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won’t forget you,” the Democratic senator said.

It was easy to identify at least one person for whom that message was meant: former Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, who retired in 2002 amid his own ethics scandal and has spent the last two years working to shore up support from New Jersey power brokers to succeed Menendez if he was forced from office.

But Menendez’s message was about more than that. The state’s senior senator is the ultimate survivor of New Jersey Continue reading “Menendez’s defiant message for ‘those who were digging my political grave’”

Still no verdict in Menendez trial

NEWARK — Another day has gone by in the federal corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez without a verdict.

Jurors deliberated again on Wednesday, but gave no clue as to whether they remained deadlocked — as they indicated they were on Monday — or had made progress toward reaching a verdict regarding Menendez and his co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

There were no questions from the jury nor notes to Judge William Walls during the 5 1/2 hours of deliberations.

Menendez, a Democrat and New Jersey’s senior senator, is charged with going to bat for Melgen’s business interests at the highest levels of the federal government in exchange for private jet flights, hotel rooms and around $750,000 in political contributions.

The defense does not dispute Menendez did favors for Melgen, but argues they were borne out of a 20-year friendship and that Melgen’s disputes with the federal government raised legitimate Continue reading “Still no verdict in Menendez trial”

No verdict in Menendez case; jury will resume deliberations Wednesday

NEWARK — Jurors in the federal corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez went home Tuesday without reaching a verdict, a day after telling the court they were deadlocked on all charges.

Jurors sent no notes and asked no questions during their 5 1/2 hours of deliberations on Tuesday, giving no clue as to whether they were any closer to reaching a verdict on the 12 counts against Menendez, a Democrat and New Jersey’s senior senator, and the 11 counts against his co-defendent, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

Deliberations began last week. However, Judge William Walls dismissed one of the jurors last Thursday so she could go on a long-planned vacation. After replacing her with an alternate, Walls told the jury to begin deliberations from scratch on Monday.

The 84-year-old judge did not seem concerned by the length of the deliberations, saying that in his experience, jurors can take Continue reading “No verdict in Menendez case; jury will resume deliberations Wednesday”

Menendez attorney, judge quarrel as jurors go back into deliberations

NEWARK — The federal judge overseeing Sen. Robert Menendez’s corruption case clashed with the Democrat’s lead attorney over jury instructions on Tuesday morning.

“This is a serious matter. This is not reality TV. This is real life,” Judge William Walls told jurors. He then offered the jurors an instruction: “When you sit around that table and you are deliberating, I want you to ask each other one thing: ‘Why?’"

Menendez attorney Abbe Lowell said Walls’ direction to the jurors to ask “why” was not included in the model instructions he had given attorneys.

I object to the fact that you varied from what you gave us ahead of time,” Lowell said. “I don’t know what the ‘why’ was.’”

Jurors deliberated last week on the 18 corruption counts against Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen. But Walls dismissed one of the jurors last Friday so she could go on Continue reading “Menendez attorney, judge quarrel as jurors go back into deliberations”

Dismissed juror’s comments roil Menendez trial, as jury starts anew

NEWARK — The judge overseeing Sen. Robert Menendez’s corruption trial accused the defense of seeking a mistrial Monday, and asked jurors what they’ve heard about the case since one of their former colleagues spoke about it publicly last week.

Four of the jurors, who were instructed at the beginning of the trial not to read media coverage about the case or talk to friends and family about it, said they had heard something about the case since court broke on Thursday. Three alternate jurors also said they heard about the trial.

But that apparently didn’t trouble judge William Wall. After he spoke privately with each of the jurors who had said he or she heard about the case, Walls did not dismiss any of them. Instead, he went ahead with his original plan and instructed the jury to begin deliberations from scratch.

"You are now a new jury. You are Continue reading “Dismissed juror’s comments roil Menendez trial, as jury starts anew”

New Jersey election results could be bad omen for state’s GOP congressmen

New Jersey Democrats were already lining up to challenge Republican Reps. Leonard Lance and Rodney Frelinghuysen. Tuesday’s results in the state’s gubernatorial election gave them more reason for hope.

“I think the races next year for Republicans are going to be more challenging than they have been in the past," said Mike DuHaime, a Republican consultant who’s working for Frelinghuysen.

Republican routs in New Jersey and Virginia — the only two states with gubernatorial races this year — have Democrats and political experts seeing a potential wave coming — one with ominous signs for Lance and Frelinghuysen, who represent the types of well-educated, suburban districts that are showing a backlash to President Donald Trump. If Republicans in Congress end a property-tax deduction that’s popular in New Jersey, the repercussions could be even worse.

The GOP got another surprise on Election Day when 23-year incumbent Rep. Frank LoBiondo announced he would not seek Continue reading “New Jersey election results could be bad omen for state’s GOP congressmen”

Dismissed Menendez juror: ‘I don’t think he did anything wrong’

NEWARK — A juror who was excused Thursday afternoon from U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s federal corruption trial said that if she had stayed on, she would have found Menendez "not guilty on every charge.”

Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby also said other jurors’ feelings about the case are mixed and she believes the result may be a hung jury.

Arroyo-Maultsby made the comments to a few reporters outside the federal courthouse in Newark, moments after leaving the trial to begin a previously-scheduled vacation in the Bahamas. Two of the reporters shared the audio with POLITICO.

“It was very stressful,” said Arroyo-Maultsby, who, according to her Facebook page, lives in Hillside and is a revenue accounting analyst for NJ Transit. “I feel like the government was very corrupted, not that Menendez was. That they were, to me, railroading him. This is how I feel. Personally, he’s not guilty on all counts.

"I Continue reading “Dismissed Menendez juror: ‘I don’t think he did anything wrong’”