Tabloid fodder, political reality — Menendez trial heats up

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To say things are heating up in the case of Sen. Bob Menendez would be an understatement.

By all accounts, the senior senator’s corruption trial could extend through Thanksgiving or even longer — drag on for years.

All the drama started on Sept. 6 under US District Judge William Walls.

 So Menendez will likely have to wait until the Nov. 7 election has passed to find out his fate.

Activists have expressed that they do not feel Menendez deserves re-election and have straight up pressured him to give up his Senate seat if he is convicted.

Republican nominee Kim Guadagno echoed that sentiment, though Phil Murphy told media outlets he hadn’t even thought about the issue.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows waning public opinion of the Democrat.

“What every American understands is you’re supposed to get up in the morning and go to work and do your job,” Alex Smith, executive director of America Rising PAC told the New York Post. “Most average Americans would be fired for not doing their job or for failing to show up.”

The case against the senator goes like this — he accepted pricey gifts — free plane rides on co-defendant Salomon Melgen’s private jet, lavish vacations and $750,000 in campaign donations.

In exchange, Menendez allegedly used his influence as a lawmaker to support several personal and business interests held by wealthy Melgen, including securing visas for three foreign​ girlfriends.

According to the senator’s lawyers, prosecutors are misrepresenting the men’s dealings and it was nothing more than two close friends helping each other out.

But many witnesses have come forward to support the prosecution’s case against Menendez including:

One of Melgen’s former private pilots testified to the 16 different times he flew the senator in Melgen’s jet. Those with inside flight knowledge spoke of the $8,000 charter of Melgen’s private jet to pick up Menendez in New Jersey.

An American Express executive explained that in 2010 Melgen used the company’s points program to book a Paris hotel room for Menendez.

Menendez adamantly believes in his absolution and has never wavered in his proclamation of innocence.

But while all this plays out in a New Jersey courtroom, Menendez’s Senate seat is vacant.

That makes Republicans plenty happy and they’ve been calling the New Jersey senator “MIA Bob.”

America Rising PAC launched www.howmanyvoteshasmenendezmissed.com, dedicated to tracking Menendez’s voting statistics during his federal trial.

The senator has even gone so far as to say he wants to be in the Senate casting votes, but a federal judge shot down his wish to change the trial dates.

“If Sen. Menendez is convicted, he obviously won’t be in the running next year,” Maurice Carroll, the poll’s assistant director told the New York Observer.

“If he is acquitted, who knows, perhaps poisoning the landscape.”

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Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis

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