WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the Ethics Committee Thursday to investigate the federal charges leveled against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez.
“Senator Menendez was indicted on numerous federal felonies. He is one of only twelve U.S. Senators to have been indicted in our history,” McConnell said in a statement. “His trial shed light on serious accusations of violating the public’s trust as an elected official, as well as potential violations of the Senate’s Code of Conduct.”
He continued, “Because of the seriousness of these charges, I am calling on the Senate Ethics committee to immediately investigate Senator Menendez’s actions which led to his indictment.”
The bribery trial of Sen. Menendez concluded Thursday afternoon in a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict and remained deadlocked.
The trial was the first against a sitting U.S. Senator in 36 years that involved federal indictments related to bribery, which, if resulting in a conviction, could land the New Jersey Democrat in prison for 20 years.
Prosecutors called Menendez the “personal senator” to Florida ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen, who is also on trial. Melgen, meanwhile, was previously convicted in court last April of health care-related fraud charges.
Prosecutors say that Melgen offered Menendez use of his private jet, expensive trips, and hefty contributions in exchange for helping the opthamologist’s business interests and getting visas for his girlfriends.
Menendez’s defense team, however, claim that the senator’s meetings with Melgen were solely for policy discussions and the trips to the Dominican Republic were just social outings between two longtime friends.