Judge rejects Democrat Bob Menendez's request to delay bribery trial

 December 29, 2023

A federal judge in New Jersey shot down a request from embattled senator Bob Menendez (D) to delay his corruption trial. 

Menendez was charged in September with taking illegal bribes from Egyptian lobbyists. He asked for a two-month delay in his trial, scheduled for May, citing the large body of evidence his lawyers need to sift through.

No delay for Menendez

U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein said the evidence, while "voluminous," is not so extensive that a delay is needed.

“In fact, the volume of discovery material is less than defendants were concerned it was when they sought the [two month delay] on December 20.”

The judge said a clerical error led Menendez's lawyers to believe they received 735 terabytes of data when in fact they only received three terabytes.

In exchange for steering favors to his Egyptian clients, Menendez, a powerful voice on foreign affairs, accepted cash, bars of gold and luxury cars.

Prosecutors added another charge in October charging Menendez with acting as an unregistered foreign agent. The indictment noted that Menendez had himself pushed the Justice Department to investigate another person for unregistered foreign lobbying.

Menendez defiant

Menendez has resisted pressure to resign with characteristic chutzpah - even claiming he is only being targeted because of his race.

“For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave. Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists,” he said.

Democrats have been mostly quiet about Menendez, but freshman senator John Fetterman (D), in neighboring Pennsylvania, has called for Menendez to be expelled.

“We cannot have an alleged foreign agent in the United States Senate,” Fetterman said in October. "This is not a close call.”

Two Democrats, Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) and Tammy Murphy, the wife of Governor Phil Murphy (D), have entered the primary to replace Menendez.

A recent poll found just 3 percent of primary voters back Menendez. 

Recently, Menendez - who is the son of Cuban refugees - has pressured the Biden administration to keep the southern border open as Republicans hammer Biden on the issue.

“It is truly shameful that President Biden and his administration are considering selling out migrants and asylum-seekers in order to placate extreme Republicans who are jeopardizing our national security and that of our allies just to score a political point,” said Menendez.

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