New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez wants his corruption trial moved from Newark to Washington.
Lawyers for Menendez and his friend, Salomon Melgen, who also faces charges tied to a case in which prosecutors say the Democratic senator used his Senate office to push Melgen’s business interests, filed a change-of-venue motion Monday.
Menendez’s attorneys said that since the senator spends most of his work week in Washington, and because potential witnesses and even the entire prosecution team work in the city, it makes more sense to try the case there.
“In this case, almost all of the conduct at issue took place in the District of Columbia, and the vast majority of potential witnesses — many of whom continue to serve in the legislative and executive branches — work or reside there,” the motion said. “These witnesses include staff members of Sen. Menendez, other members of Congress and their staffs, a cabinet secretary from (the Department of Health and Human Services) and sub-cabinet officials at CMS.”
The motion also claims at least three other senators will likely be called as witnesses.
“The indictment details the activities of at least three other U.S. senators (in addition to Sen. Menendez), all of whom will likely be called as witnesses at trial,” the motion said. “Requiring at least two other sitting senators as well as over a dozen executive and legislative staff members to travel to New Jersey for trial threatens to disrupt the operation of the executive and legislative branches, at a time when the Congress and these agencies have important work before them.”
Menendez’s attorneys also argue moving the trial would allow the senator to continue his work with minimal interruption.
“A trial in Washington, D.C., would allow the senator to continue to fulfill his responsibilities in Washington in the mornings and evenings, and during any breaks in the proceedings,” the motion said. “A trial in New Jersey obviously would not afford him the same ability to continue to participate in Senate business.”
If the case is moved, it would aso mean none of Menendez’s constituents would be part of the jury pool.