Prosecutors oppose Menendez effort to change trial schedule for Senate votes

Prosecutors oppose Menendez effort to change trial schedule for Senate votes

Federal prosecutors on Friday rejected a request from Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times MORE (D-N.J.) to allow periodic delays for his trial in order to cast votes in the Senate.

“No defendant should receive special treatment based on power or privilege,” prosecutors said, according to Reuters. “This court should reject defendant Menendez’s effort to let politics in Washington dictate the trial schedule in Newark.”

Menendez argued that an accommodation was justified by "common sense" and U.S. Supreme Court precedents, but Reuters reported that it's unclear when the judge in the case would rule on the Democratic senator's request.

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U.S. District Judge William Walls on Tuesday had rejected Menendez's request to the court to delay the trial scheduled for Sept. 6 in Newark. Menendez argued in a filing Thursday that his "constitutional obligations" to his New Jersey constituents justified altering the trial schedule.

Prosecutors in his federal corruption trial accused Menendez of trying "to hide behind the very office he corrupted" by his request to delay the case in order to attend Senate votes.

"Many defendants try to evade their criminal trials - but only a United States Senator can try to hide behind the very office he corrupted to avoid accountability to the public for his actions," prosecutors said in a statement

Menendez has signaled a desire to vote on raising the debt ceiling to avoid a government shutdown as well as casting votes on rewriting the tax code and reviewing a flood insurance program.

The judge said this week that Menendez was free to "absent himself" from testimony, but said that he would be treated "no worse and no better than any other defendant."

Menendez is charged with fraud and bribery for taking gifts and campaign donations from co-defendant and longtime friend Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, in exchange for the senator's lobbying efforts for him. Melgen has also been accused of profiting from a large-scale Medicare scheme.