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New Jersey

Menendez: 'Not once have I dishonored my public office'

Federal corruption trial underway in New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. - U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez arrived at the federal courthouse in Newark, New Jersey, for the start of his federal corruption trial Wednesday, saying, "Not once have I dishonored my public office."

Opening statements have been delayed, but that hasn't lowered the tension in the courtroom between the judge and the defense.

An attorney for the New Jersey Democrat accused the judge Wednesday of disparaging Menendez in his opinion denying Menendez's motion to postpone the trial on days of important Senate votes.

U.S. District Judge William Walls continually interrupted to deny the allegation.

Walls also chided defense attorneys for filing a motion on what to include in jury instructions at the end of the trial.

When attorney Abbe Lowell pointed out that the motion was filed according to the judge's order from last December, Walls replied, "Fine. Bill me."

Opening statements were delayed Wednesday to seat one regular juror and two alternate jurors.

The trial will examine whether he lobbied for Florida ophthalmologist Dr. Salomon Melgen's business interests in exchange for political donations and gifts.

Melgen is on trial with Menendez.

Menendez has vehemently denied the allegations. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

A conviction could potentially alter the makeup of a deeply divided U.S. Senate. If Menendez is convicted and forced to step down before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leaves office in January, the Republican would pick his replacement.


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