Sen. Robert Menendez, given a clean bill of legal health last week by the Justice Department, resumed his position Tuesday as the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez, D-N.J., a free thinker on diplomacy issues who sometimes strays from Democratic dogma, surrendered the post nearly three years ago when he was indicted on corruption charges. That trial, held over several months last fall, ended in a hung jury just before Thanksgiving, and in media interviews afterward, jurors signaled deep skepticism with the Justice Department’s case against Menendez.
After first signaling they would retry him this year, federal prosecutors last week asked the judge to dismiss all charges against the senator stemming from allegations that he took gifts and political donations from an eye doctor whom he tried to help in his disputes with federal regulators.
No longer under indictment, Menendez benefits from internal party rules that return the ranking-Democrat post to him, sending Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., to the ranking-Democrat post on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., coordinated the announcement with the two senators, ending Cardin’s interim service as the top Democrat on the highly visible committee while Menendez fought his criminal case.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Paul Kane