Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez's defense attorneys rested their case last Friday, and jurors are now faced with the question of whether to convict the longtime Congressman of using his office to obtain special favors for a high-level donor in Florida.
But just as the jury's second day of deliberations got underway, one juror had a crazy question for the judge: "What is a Senator?"
The juror also asked for a full transcript of Menendez's defense attorney's closing arguments.
Although the question seems, well, insane, it's important to consider that Menendez's primary defense to charges of bribery and corruption is that his constituency as a Senator isn't limited to the boundaries of New Jersey, and that by helping Melgen get visas from the State Department for his foreign girlfriends and assisting the good doctor in weaseling out of a Medicare fraud investigation, he was simply fulfilling his Congressional oath to help the needy people of this fair nation.
His lawyer made that argument in her closing remarks, and mentioned that, since Menendez never passed legislation directly benefiting Melgen, technically taking gifts and donations from the Florida dentist wasn't bribery — hence the juror's request for the full transcript of the defense's closing remarks.
The juror wasn't being dumb. He or she might have been being glib.
U.S. District Judge William Walls refused both requests and asked the jury to use it's "collective memory" to recall how to properly define the meaning of "Senator."
Menendez will likely find out, by the end of this week, whether he will face a conviction for his extracurricular activities. Democrats in the Senate, however, remain undecided as to whether a bribery and corruption conviction means Menendez will have to resign his seat.