The New Jersey lawmaker opposes White House policy on Cuba and has been sanctioned by Venezuela. Robert “Bob” Menendez, a U.S. senator recently sanctioned by Venezuela, was indicted Wednesday on corruption charges.
The Democrat New Jersey senator was found guilty of using his powers to help one of his donors and personal friends, Salomon Melgen, in exchange for gifts. Melgen, a Florida-based ophthalmologist, was also charged. A grand jury issued numerous counts against Menendez including for conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery and for issuing false statements.
Menendez had been under investigation for two years. He previously said he had no plans to step down. His current term ends in January 2019, and there are no Democratic Party rules as to whether he would be stripped of any positions in case of an indictment. He is due to hold a press conference Wednesday evening. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and of Cuban heritage, has criticized the Obama administration’s dialogue with Cuba to end half a century’s of hostile relations.
The senator was also recently named on a list that includes George Bush and Dick Cheney of top U.S. officials sanctioned by Venezuela for a list of charges. A resignation from Menendez could mean a coup for Republicans in the Senate.
New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, would likely appoint a Republican replacement to serve until a special election, which would bring his party one seat closer to the 60-seat “super majority,” making it easier to push through legislation.
The Republicans currently have 54 Senate seats.
Written by Telesurtv, CubaSí
April 2, 2015