Menendez Has Run Out the Clock on GOP Fantasies of Picking Up a Senate Seat

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Whatever happens to Senator Robert Menendez, it’s reasonably clear he won’t be out of office in time for Chris Christie to appoint a successor. Photo: Seth Wenig/AP

The news that the jury in Senator Robert Menendez’s corruption trial is deadlocked could just mean that a decision is coming tomorrow or the day after. If it is, they’ll most likely acquit the embattled New Jersey Democrat. More likely, though, they will stay deadlocked, leading to a mistrial.

It appears the judge in the case probably ordered the jury to keep deliberating because an alternate juror had just been assigned to the case after one of the original 12 was excused to embark on a long-planned vacation. Said juror, though, told the media after her dismissal that eight other jurors shared her opinion that Menendez should be acquitted. This not being a performance of 12 Angry Men, it’s unlikely said jurors will change their minds.

If there’s a mistrial, federal prosecutors may really struggle as to whether to charge Menendez again, having already gone through a two-month trial.

One thing seems relatively clear, however: Whether there’s a mistrial and a new trial, a mistrial with no new trial, or an acquittal, the hopes of many Republicans that Menendez would be forced out of office in time for lame-duck New Jersey governor Chris Christie to appoint an interim replacement are all but dead. Christie leaves office on January 16, to be replaced by Democrat Phil Murphy. Unless Judge William Walls is determined to impanel a new jury instantly and lash the parties through a trial that is in session throughout the holidays, there will not be some insta-senator who will help Republicans pass their tax bill. And indeed, the GOP could be down a senator, depending on what happens to Roy Moore.

Menendez Runs Out Clock on GOP Hopes for a Senate Seat