U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and Florida eye specialist Salomon Melgen have been accused in a 2015 indictment of bribery and different crimes and have pleaded not responsible.
Rosiell Polanco Suero informed the jury at U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s corruption trial on Tuesday that she was stunned when a U.S. official referred to as her at her residence within the Dominican Republic to ask her to the American Embassy for a visa appointment.
“That they had already denied me the visa,” Polanco Suero testified via an interpreter.
However after the preliminary denial, Polanco Suero, then 22, had complained to Salomon Melgen, a rich ophthalmologist she deliberate to go to in Florida, who in flip reached out to Menendez, a longtime good friend. The senator intervened, and when Polanco Suero and her sister returned to the embassy for a second visa appointment lower than a month later, they have been accredited.
Prosecutors on Tuesday targeted on this sequence of occasions in 2008 for instance of the official acts Menendez, sixty three, is alleged to have taken on behalf of Melgen, his sixty three-yr-previous co-defendant, as half of a bigger bribery scheme. Menendez, New Jersey’s senior Democratic senator, stands accused of doing favors for Melgen in change for luxurious holidays, flights on his personal jet and lots of of hundreds of dollars in political contributions. Each males have maintained their innocence.
COURT: Prosecutors focus on Menendez’s involvement in visas for friend and co-defendant
EDITORIAL: Let’s have Menendez trial before the verdict
If convicted, Menendez could be forced to resign his seat at a time when Republicans are trying to enact key parts of President Donald Trump’s agenda with a razor-thin majority in the Senate.
Prosecutors have not said explicitly whether Menendez made a phone call to the U.S. ambassador or consul general in the Dominican Republic about Polanco Suero’s application. But after her application was denied, Menendez told a staffer in an email that he would like to “Call Ambassador asap.”
Peter Koski, the lead prosecutor, later asked Joel Nantais, a State Department official, how common it was for senators to call U.S. ambassadors to intervene in visa applications.
“In my experience, it’s not that common in the population of these applications,” Nantais responded.
But during cross-examination, Nantais said there are more than 11 million nonimmigrant visa applications reviewed by consular officials every year and that congressional offices reach out to those officials regarding “thousands” of them.
It’s “less common” when members of Congress, as opposed to their staffs, reach out, Nantais said.
Prosecutors sought to show that…