NEWARK – A disappointed Sen. Bob Menendez arrived at Newark Penn Station on an Amtrak train from Washington D.C. Wednesday morning, taking the long commute to his corruption trial after an 18-hour trip to the Capitol.
Menendez arrived in time to vote against a Republican measure repealing mandatory arbitration for consumers who sue their banks and force a tie-breaker by Vice President Mike Pence. But Pence voted in favor of the move, which passed 51-50.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” Menendez said. “Big banks and big financial institutions won out, and the little guy lost, and the vice-president made it happen.”
Ambling before reporters and TV cameras on his way into the federal courthouse, Menendez downplayed the idea he could have swayed another Republican senator to his side with more time in Washington.
“It was a 50-50 vote,” he said. “It was predetermined.”
Menendez’s trip to Washington underscores the challenges he faces as a sitting U.S. senator from the minority party under indictment. Close votes may summon him to the capital, but if he doesn’t return in time for the trial day jurors will not be told why he is absent.
Menendez briefly became emotional this morning when he mentioned the trial’s toll on his family. Then, the senator turned to his left and walked up the courthouse steps to face another day at the defense table.
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