Warren on Menendez Potentially Missing Critical Senate Votes for Corruption Trial: 'I Didn't Know About This'

September 1, 2017

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) admitted last week that she was unaware that fellow Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.) could miss critical upcoming votes in the Senate because of his corruption trial, which is set to begin next week.

A constituent asked Warren at a town hall in Concord, Mass. whether she had an alternative plan in case Menendez is not able to partake in critical votes, noting that Senate Democrats would need "another vote."

"I never played poker and there was a reason," Warren said, pointing at her face. "The answer is no, I don't have a plan b, because actually I didn't know about this and I hope that this isn't right, but you might be right on this."

The constituent said that his source for the story was the New York Times, prompting Warren to joke, "Oh, you mean fake news," in an apparent attempt to mock President Donald Trump. The president often refers to prominent media outlets, including the Times, as "fake news" for being biased and dishonest when covering his administration.

"Sorry to say, Graham, I didn't see the piece, and I actually haven't talked to [Senate Minority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer [D., N.Y.] since then to find out exactly what's happening, but I appreciate you raising it," Warren said. "I'm glad they raised it, so I just don't know the answer."

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls on Friday denied Menendez's request to have his corruption trial recessed on days when the Senate has a "critical" vote.

"Menendez is entitled to no more and no less deference than any other defendant. If the motion had been made by a defendant orthopedic surgeon who asked the court to recess to accommodate her operating room schedule, it would be denied," Walls wrote. "So too would the motion be denied if made by a construction worker who sought trial schedule adjustment so that he could go to work on a building project. And if a college professor sought recess of the trial to meet his lecture appointments, his motion would likewise be denied."

Menendez is accused of carrying out "official favors" for his friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, in exchange for private jet flights, vacations, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. Federal prosecutors allege that the senator started taking bribes from Melgen shortly after he entered the Senate in 2006.