Guilty or innocent?

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Daniel Maibenco, Columnist

 

Just last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged well-known and respected senator Bob Menendez with corruption, conspiracy and bribery.

The DOJ finally concluded its investigation into the actions of the New Jersey Senator. After about three years of investigating, the DOJ decided it had enough evidence to indict the senator for wrongdoing.

One would assume that if a politician is indicted, they must be guilty of doing something highly illegal. But, given all the internal chaos brewing in D.C. and rising tensions due to disagreements over foreign policy, nothing may be as it seems.

Senator Menendez is a powerful and high ranking Democrat, but he has sided with the Republicans on several hot-button issues. For one, he has been critical of Obama’s stances with Cuba and Iran.

The question: is the indictment of Sen. Menendez due to true misconduct or is it political retribution?

Right now, I will not make any assumptions until all the information has been brought to light. But, I will address a few interesting facts.

Sen. Menendez’s corruption investigation has stemmed mainly from his relationship with a Florida doctor. Menendez is accused of using his position to help his friend in a variety of business ventures. In return, the doctor gave Menendez a wide array of lavish gifts.

The Senator says that the gifts are just that – gifts. He also said that his relationship with the Florida doctor is just a personal one. They have been friends for many years.

Even as the impending trial is looming, questions remain.

I find it a coincidence that Sen. Menendez is indicted when his votes will now be needed. Congress is set to vote on possible deals and policies surrounding Cuba and Iran and he is a vocal and staunch critic.

Even though he is a popular and successful Democrat, he still sides with the GOP on foreign policy.

If he were to get away with possible corruption by claiming Obama and the DOJ are on a witch hunt, I would see it as a true mocking of our court system.

If his trial reveals that the indictments against him are unsubstantiated, I and many others would see Obama and the DOJ as beyond vindictive. The claims of political retribution and a witch hunt would be unsurprisingly true.

The fact that there is so much doubt into these corruption allegations even before trial is very troubling.

I see this as Washington fighting at its worst. Sen. Menendez should not be able to claim he is being made into a political martyr. The squabbling and bickering between politicians of both political parties lets him do this.

The infighting within both the Democrats and Republicans is getting worse. Only time will tell if the announcements of candidates for the 2016 presidential election will take media coverage away from Menendez’s trial.

In the end, I hope that the American people and the courts will not let our politicians do as they please or possibly let our President destroy the career of one of his critics.

The bottom line is: many politicians and their supporters can claim they have the authority to interpret the laws, enforce the laws and make up the laws as they please.

Even if people argue that the Constitution, Supreme Court or popular opinion supports political actions, it still does not make it morally or ethically right.

It only hurts politics and the American people. It makes things worse off for the future. It will then become a tremendous struggle to right any legalized wrong.