When the 115th Congress returns to Washington on Sept. 5, Senator Robert Menendez will likely be absent: His federal corruption trial is set to begin here the following day.
But when the Senate moves to vote on major bills during the fall – including on the debt ceiling, his plan to overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program, even an unpredictable major foreign policy decision – Senator Menendez will be caught between his desire to remain in front of jurors and his congressional obligation to fight for his constituents.
His lawyers brought this issue before Judge William H. Walls on Tuesday, hoping to minimize the impact any court absence might have.
They made three requests: delay the start of the trial until after the fall congressional session; agree to postpone the trial on days when a key vote would be taking place; or have the judge formally explain to the jury that the senator could not be in court because he was in Washington.
Mr. Walls dismissed all three requests.