A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, dug in on Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate legislation designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House Republicans’ struggle to unite around an alternative.Congress is at an impasse just days before a disruptive federal shutdown that would halt paychecks for many of the federal government’s roughly 2 million employees, as well as 2 million active-duty military troops and reservists, furlough many of those workers and curtail government services.But the House and Senate are pursuing different paths to avert those consequences, even though time is running out before government funding expires after midnight on Saturday.The Senate is working toward passage of a bipartisan measure that would fund the government until 17 November as longer-term negotiations continue, while also providing $6bn for Ukraine and $6bn for US disaster relief.The House, meanwhile, has teed up votes on four of the dozen annual spending bills that fund various agencies in hopes that would cajole enough Republicans to support a House-crafted continuing resolution that temporarily funds the government and boosts security at the US border with Mexico. It’s a long shot, but McCarthy predicted a deal.“Put your money on me; we’re going to get this done,” he said in a CNBC interview. “I think we can work through the weekend. I think we can figure this out.”Lawmakers were already weary from days of late-night negotiating. The strain was evident at McCarthy’s closed-door meeting with Republicans on Thursday morning, which was marked by a tense exchange between the speaker and Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, according to those in the room.Gaetz, who has taunted McCarthy for weeks with threats to oust him from his post, confronted the speaker about conservative online influencers being paid to post negative things about him. McCarthy shot back that he wouldn’t waste his time on something like that, Gaetz told reporters as he exited the meeting.McCarthy’s allies left the meeting fuming about Gaetz’s tactics.With his majority splintering, McCarthy is scrambling to come up with a plan for preventing a shutdown and win Republican support. The speaker told Republicans he would reveal a Republican stopgap plan, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, on Friday, according to those in the room, while also trying to force Senate Democrats into giving some concessions.But with time running out, many GOP lawmakers were withholding support for a temporary measure until they had a chance to see it. Others are considering joining Democrats, without McCarthy’s support, to bring forward a bill that would prevent a shutdown.With his ability to align his conference in doubt, McCarthy has little standing to negotiate with Senate Democrats. He has also attempted to draw Joe Biden into negotiations, but the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said Congress and the White House had already worked out top-line spending levels for next year with an agreement this summer that allowed the government to continue borrowing to pay its bills.McCarthy was deviating from that deal and courting a shutdown by catering to Republicans who said it didn’t do enough to cut spending, he said.“By focusing on the views of the radical few instead of the many, speaker McCarthy has made a shutdown far more likely,” Schumer said.Biden also sought to apply more pressure on McCarthy, urging him to compromise with Democrats even though that could threaten his job.“I think that the speaker is making a choice between his speakership and American interests,” Biden said.The White House, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, notified staff on Thursday to prepare for a shutdown, according to emails obtained by the Associated Press. Employees who are furloughed would have four hours on Monday to prepare their offices for the shutdown. More
The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said on Wednesday he was “disturbed” by the fraud indictment against his fellow Democratic Senator, Bob Menendez, and that the New Jersey lawmaker has fallen “way short” of senatorial standards.Menendez pleaded not guilty earlier in the day to charges of taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, as calls for his resignation from his fellow Democrats escalated.He was released on a $100,000 bond and then left federal court in New York without speaking to reporters.Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week accused Menendez, 69, and his wife, Nadine, of accepting gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for the senator using his influence to aid Egypt’s government and interfere with law enforcement investigations of the businessmen.Schumer was the most senior Democrat yet to comment on Menendez’s alleged crimes, though he stopped short of calling for the senator to resign, as almost 30 of his colleagues in the congressional upper chamber have done.However, Schumer, from New York, said: “Tomorrow, he will address the Democratic caucus and we’ll see what happens after that.”The majority leader said he was disappointed and disturbed by the indictment.“We all know that … for senators, there’s a much, much higher standard. And clearly when you read the indictment, Senator Menendez fell way, way below that standard,” Schumer said.Menendez entered the plea at a hearing before the US magistrate judge Ona Wang in Manhattan. Wang said Menendez could be released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond.The Democratic senator will be required to surrender his personal passport, but may retain his official passport and travel abroad on official business. His wife, Nadine Menendez, 56, and businessmen Jose Uribe, 56, and Fred Daibes, 66, also pleaded not guilty. A third businessman, Wael Hana, 40, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.Menendez, one of two senators representing New Jersey, stepped down from his role as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, as required under his party’s rules.But on Monday he said he would stay in the Senate and fight the charges. More than half of all US Democratic senators – including Cory Booker, the junior senator from New Jersey and historically a close ally – have called on Menendez, a powerful voice on foreign policy who has at times bucked his own party, to resign since the charges were announced on Friday.Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat in the Senate, on Wednesday joined his colleagues in urging Menendez to step down, saying on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he believed he could no longer serve.Democrats narrowly control the Senate with 51 seats, including three independents who normally vote with them, to the Republicans’ 49. The Democratic New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, who would appoint a temporary replacement should Menendez step aside, has also called for him to resign.The indictment contained images of gold bars and cash investigators seized from Menendez’s home. Prosecutors say Hana arranged meetings between Menendez and Egyptian officials – who pressed him to sign off on military aid – and in return put his wife on the payroll of a company he controlled.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThe investigation marks the third time Menendez has been under investigation by federal prosecutors. He has never been convicted.Pete Aguilar, chair of the House Democratic caucus, called for Menendez to resign during a news conference with House Democratic leadership.Menendez has had “an incredible track record” of service to the people of New Jersey and of having “lifted up issues that the Latino community cares about”, Aguilar said.“It doesn’t bring me or any of us joy to say that he should resign. But he should for the betterment of the Democratic party. For the people of New Jersey. It’s better that he fights this trial outside of the halls of Congress.”Almost 30 Democratic senators had called on Menendez to resign by mid-morning on Wednesday.On Wednesday, the judge ordered him not to have contact outside of the presence of lawyers with his co-defendants except for his wife.He also cannot have contact outside of the presence of lawyers with members of his Senate staff, foreign relations committee staff or political advisers who have personal knowledge about the facts of the case, though it is unclear how those restrictions would impact his work.Reuters and the Associated Press contributed reporting More
Moderate New York Republican Mike Lawler said members of the GOP blocking efforts to keep the federal government from going into shutdown before a Saturday deadline are ‘stuck on stupid’ in an interview with CNN.
Criticising members of his party, Lawler said: ‘Some of my colleagues have, frankly, been stuck on stupid and refused to do what we were elected to do, against the vast majority of the conference, who have been working to avoid a shutdown’ More
Republicans pushing for a federal government shutdown are “stuck on stupid”, a party moderate said shortly before one rightwinger reported that the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, would not hold a vote on a bipartisan Senate plan advanced as a way to keep the government open.“The American people elected a House Republican majority to serve as a check and balance and be able to govern,” Mike Lawler, a Republican from New York, a heavily Democratic state, told CNN.“Some of my colleagues have, frankly, been stuck on stupid and refused to do what we were elected to do, against the vast majority of the conference, who have been working to avoid a shutdown.”If no agreement to continue funding the government is reached by midnight on Saturday, many federal functions will cease. Employees can expect to be furloughed and the public left without key services.Past shutdowns – most recently in 2013, 2018 and 2019 – have been stoked by Republican hardliners in Congress but have not paid off politically. The most recent closure was prompted by Donald Trump, then president, over immigration policy. The Congressional Budget Office put the cost of the 35-day shutdown at about $18bn and said $3bn was wiped off US GDP.Nonetheless, Trump is now backing a shutdown again and on Wednesday Bob Good of Virginia, a hard-right holdout, told reporters McCarthy had said he would not allow a vote on the stopgap measure reached by senators the day before.McCarthy is widely seen to be in a political vice, running the House with a five-seat majority, beholden to hardliners who in January forced him through 15 votes to become speaker and are now threatening to start proceedings to have him removed.Moderates like Lawler, who was elected in 2022 in an unusually strong Republican showing in New York, are at most risk of losing their seats next year, when Democrats will seek to take back the House.Lawler told CNN: “Two weeks ago, the speaker came forth with a proposal that would reduce spending by 8% in the 30-day continuing resolution, as well as enact most of the provisions of HR2 [a House bill] to deal with our border crisis,” Lawler said. “Unfortunately, folks like Matt Gaetz chose to oppose that for some ridiculous reason.”Gaetz, from Florida and a vocal Trump supporter, has led the charge against McCarthy. On the House floor on Tuesday night, he said the US would soon see if the “failed” speaker would turn to Democrats to keep the government open.“The one thing I agree with my Democrat colleagues on is that for the last eight months, this House has been poorly led,” Gaetz said. “And we own that, and we have to do something about it, and you know what? My Democratic colleagues will have an opportunity to do something about that too, and we will see if they bail out our failed speaker.”skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionDemocratic and moderate Republican support could help McCarthy keep the government open – but it would almost certainly spell the end of his time as speaker.On Tuesday, a source familiar with the thinking of moderate Republicans predicted the shutdown would “last about five days”, because a House rules committee block on a bipartisan deal meant it could only reach the floor on the first day of the closure, five days then being needed to get the deal to a point where “it will sail through both chambers”.The same source said hard-right Republicans simply wanted “to burn the place down”, adding: “These are not serious people. They believe anything that [Joe] Biden wants is bad, but the margins are so thin that their votes count.”Lawler said: “I’ve been very clear from the start, that I will not support a government shutdown, that we need to do everything we can to avoid one. Nobody wins in a shutdown. And in fact, the American people are going to be the ones that get hurt.” More
With just five days left to avert a federal shutdown, the House and the Senate return on Tuesday to resume their tense budget negotiations in the hope of cobbling together a last-minute agreement to keep the government open.The House will take action on four appropriations bills, which would address longer-term government funding needs but would not specifically help avoid a shutdown on 1 October.The four bills include further funding cuts demanded by the hard-right House members who have refused to back a stopgap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, that would prevent a shutdown. Because of House Republicans’ narrow majority, McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of votes within the conference, and hard-right members have capitalized on that dynamic to push for policy concessions in the spending negotiations.The House is expected to take a procedural vote on those four bills on Tuesday. If that vote is successful, the House Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, will likely attempt to use the victory as leverage with the hard-right members of his conference to convince them to back a continuing resolution.But it remains unclear whether those four appropriations bills can win enough support to clear the procedural vote, given that one of the holdout Republicans, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, has said she will not back the spending package because it includes funding for Ukraine.Speaking to reporters on Tuesday on Capitol Hill, McCarthy was asked whether it would be possible to take up a continuing resolution if the appropriations bills fail to advance.“I never give up,” McCarthy said. “I’ve got a lot of things I can try.”Even if House Republicans can pass their spending package, the proposal will be dead on arrival in the Senate, where the Democrats who hold the majority have roundly rejected additional funding cuts.While the House remains at odds, the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, is taking matters into his own hands by attempting to advance a shell bill that could serve as a legislative vehicle for a continuing resolution. The Senate plans to hold an initial vote on that bill on Tuesday evening.“As I have said for months, we must work in a bipartisan fashion to keep our government open, avoid a shutdown and avoid inflicting unnecessary pain on the American people,” Schumer said last week. “This action will give the Senate the option to do just that.”As the House standoff stretches on, the White House has accused Republicans of playing politics at the expense of the American people. In a video shared to X, formerly known as Twitter, Joe Biden warned on Tuesday that a shutdown could force US service members to go without pay as they remain on duty.“I’m prepared to do my part, but the Republicans in the House of Representatives refuse. They refuse to stand up to the extremists in their party. So now everyone in America could be forced to pay the price,” Biden said. “Funding the government is one of the most basic responsibilities of the Congress. It’s time for these Republicans in the House to start doing their job – doing the job America elected them to do. So let’s get it done.”skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionBut Republicans simultaneously face pressure from the leader of their party, Donald Trump, to hold the line in the budget talks – even if that means risking a shutdown.Trump wrote in a post shared on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Sunday: “UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN!”McCarthy could attempt to pass a continuing resolution with Democratic support, but such a choice would face immediate backlash from hard-right Republicans, who have threatened to oust the speaker if he opts for that bipartisan strategy.One source familiar with the thinking of more moderate House Republicans argued that only a bipartisan proposal can ultimately pass both chambers of Congress, criticizing hard-right members for seeking “to burn the place down”.“These are not serious people,” the source said. “They believe anything that Biden wants is bad, but the margins are so thin that their votes count.”Martin Pengelly contributed reporting More
In a significant blow to Bob Menendez’s hopes of staying in the US Senate while under indictment for corruption, Cory Booker – his fellow New Jersey Democrat – joined calls for the senator to resign.“The details of the allegations against Senator Menendez are of such a nature that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans as well as those he must work with in order to be effective have been shaken to the core,” Booker said on Tuesday.Booker, who has been in the US Senate since 2013, added: “I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”By early afternoon, more than a dozen Democratic senators had called for Menendez to quit.Menendez, 69, was elected to the Senate in 2006. He survived a previous corruption investigation, which was dropped in 2017 after a jury failed to reach a verdict.Last week, Menendez was charged with using his position as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee to profit by assisting the government of Egypt, through three businessmen in his home state.The senator and his wife are alleged to have taken bribes including gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz car and more than $500,000 in cash.On Monday, speaking to reporters in Union City, Menendez said the cash was from his savings.“For 30 years,” he said, “I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings accounts, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.“Now this may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings accounts based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years. I look forward to addressing other issues in trial.”He did not mention the gold bars or the car or say if he planned to seek re-election. He ignored questions from reporters.“Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve worked for despite the naysayers and everyone who has underestimated me,” Menendez said.“I recognise this will be the biggest fight yet, but as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator.”To those calling for his resignation, he said: “The court of public opinion is no substitute for our revered justice system. Those who rushed to judgment, you have done so based on a limited set of facts framed by the prosecution to be as salacious as possible. Remember, prosecutors get it wrong.”Then, only one Democratic senator, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, had joined influential Democrats including the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, and the New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in calling for Menendez to quit.Many observers turned their gaze to Booker, a Menendez ally and high-profile Democrat who ran for the party’s presidential nomination in 2020.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionPolitico observed: “Menendez might stick around no matter what Booker says, but if Booker calls for Menendez’s resignation it will make it safer and easier for every other Democrat who has remained mum to do the same. On the other hand, a supportive statement from Booker will be worth its weight in gold.”On Tuesday, Booker followed other Democratic senators – Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Peter Welch of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jacky Rosen of Nevada – in saying Menendez should go.“For nearly a decade,” Booker said, “I’ve worked in the Senate alongside Senator Menendez … I’ve witnessed his extraordinary work and boundless work ethic. I’ve consistently found Senator Menendez to be intellectually gifted, tough, passionate and deeply empathic. We have developed a working relationship and a friendship.”Saying the new indictment “contains shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing”, Booker said he found that “hard to reconcile with the person I know”. He expected Menendez to mount “a vigorous defence”, he said.But, he said, “there is [a] higher standard for public officials, one not of criminal law but of common ideals. As senators, we operate in the public trust … The allegations against Senator Menendez are of such a nature that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans as well as those he must work with … have been shaken to the core.“… Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve. And in this case he must do so again.”Other Democratic senators followed in Booker’s footsteps.They included Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.Jon Tester of Montana, a senator widely seen as vulnerable in his re-election fight next year, said: “I’ve read the detailed charges against Senator Menendez and find them deeply disturbing.“While he deserves a fair trial like every other American, I believe Senator Menendez should resign for the sake of the public’s faith in the US Senate.” More
Saying he would not resign after being indicted on corruption charges, the embattled New Jersey Democratic senator Bob Menendez told reporters that $480,000 in cash found in a safe, clothing and closets at his home was kept there for emergency personal use. ‘For 30 years,’ Menendez said, ‘I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings accounts, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.’ Under an indictment unsealed last week, Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, 56, were accused of using his seat in the Senate, as chair of the foreign relations committee, to benefit the government of Egypt More
Insisting he would not resign after being indicted on corruption charges, the embattled New Jersey Democratic senator Bob Menendez told reporters that $480,000 in cash found in a safe, clothing and closets at his home was kept there for emergency personal use.“For 30 years,” Menendez said, “I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings accounts, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.”The senator’s parents are from Cuba though he was born in New York. Last week, he said: “It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat.” In Union City, New Jersey, on Monday, Menendez spoke in English and in Spanish. A group of people he said were “everyday people and constituents who know me” stood behind him as he spoke.The senator continued: “Now this may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings accounts based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years. I look forward to addressing other issues in trial.”Under an indictment unsealed last week, Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, 56, were accused of using his seat in the Senate, as chair of the foreign relations committee, to benefit the government of Egypt.Prosecutors described how the large sums of cash were found at Menendez’s New Jersey home, as well as actual gold bars. A Mercedes-Benz car is also at issue. Three businessmen have also been charged.In his remarks on Monday, Menendez did not mention the gold bars. Nor did he respond to reporters’ questions. His wife did not attend.Menendez beat a previous corruption investigation. Ending in 2018, a five-year examination of the senator’s relationship with a Florida eye doctor began with unsubstantiated allegations about consorting with prostitutes and resulted in a bribery indictment. Menendez denied wrongdoing. After a jury failed to reach a verdict, the investigation was dropped.Since the new indictment was unveiled, leading Democrats including the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, and the New York progressive representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have called for Menendez to resign.But in the Senate, only John Fetterman of Pennsylvania had called for his colleague to quit by the time Menendez stepped out to face reporters on Monday.“Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve worked for despite the naysayers and everyone who has underestimated me,” said Menendez, 69.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotion“I recognise this will be the biggest fight yet, but as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator.”To those who have called for his resignation, he said: “The court of public opinion is no substitute for our revered justice system.“Those who rushed to judgment, you have done so based on a limited set of facts framed by the prosecution to be as salacious as possible. Remember, prosecutors get it wrong.”On social media, Fetterman seemed to dismiss Menendez’s claim to have kept so much cash for emergency use.“We have an extra flashlight for our home emergencies,” Fetterman said. More
Gold bars, guns, cash stuffed into a coat and favors for a foreign government – the new indictment of Bob Menendez, the Democratic US senator from New Jersey, reads like the plot of a cheap pulp novel satirizing political graft. But the allegations against the longtime lawmaker are all too real – and the purported scheme all too predictable – in a country whose judiciary has been effectively telling politicians that corruption is perfectly legal.Evoking memories of Abscam and the Keating Five scandals, the details of the Menendez indictment are certainly anomalous for their cartoonish color. Indeed, this affair goes way beyond the donation-for-legislation culture that has been normalized in Washington. Federal prosecutors allege an elaborate plot in which Menendez and his wife accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for using Menendez’s power and influence as a senator to seek to protect and enrich” a trio of businessmen “and to benefit the Arab Republic of Egypt”.In particular, Menendez and his wife stand accused of accepting “cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value”. The indictment alleges that in exchange, Menendez passed non-public US government information to Egyptian officials; used his position as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee to facilitate and “sign off on” weapons sales to that country; plotted to disrupt a criminal investigation into one of the businessmen; and persuaded the Biden administration to install a new prosecutor whom he believed he could influence on behalf of another businessman.Menendez has denied the charges against him, depicting himself as a victim of a “smear campaign” by those who “simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a US senator and serve with honor and distinction”.But if the alleged facts in the indictment prove true, the big question is: why would any politician think he could get away with something so brazen?Perhaps it’s because Menendez knows that to secure a conviction, prosecutors will have to prove that it was illegal for him to accept the gifts in exchange for a “performance of an official act”. And like every US politician, Menendez almost certainly knows that while that may seem straightforward, the corruption-plagued supreme court has deliberately made it anything but.Less than a decade ago, justices reviewed a case that echoed today’s Menedez scandal. This one involved Bob McDonnell, a former Virginia governor and Republican, whom a federal jury found guilty on 11 counts of conspiracy for accepting lavish gifts from a businessman in exchange for gubernatorial favors. However, supreme court justices unanimously overturned McDonnell’s conviction in 2016 on the grounds that those favors were permissible.“Our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes and ball gowns,” wrote chief justice John Roberts at the time. “It is instead with the broader legal implications of the government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute … Setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event does not, standing alone, qualify as an ‘official act’.”The landmark decision tightened the legal definition of public corruption, increasing the difficulty for prosecutors to establish a bribery case against a political official.Menendez has already once tried to use that precedent to halt a previous corruption indictment in a similarly grotesque case that he successfully fought to a mistrial. Recent developments may make it even easier for the New Jersey lawmaker to once again avoid jail.In 2020, disgraced New York politicians convinced courts to use the McDonnell precedent to overturn parts of their high-profile corruption convictions.Two years later, the supreme court struck again, overturning two additional Albany corruption convictions. In one of the latter cases, the court declared that bribery charges cannot apply to government officials who – during brief hiatuses from their jobs – accept payments to elicit favors from their public-sector cronies just before they return to government employment.Then came all the news of supreme court justices and their family members secretly accepting luxury gifts from billionaires and payments from law firms and conservative groups with business before the court. Taken together, those revelations suggested a self-protection motive in the court’s ongoing crusade to complicate, reduce and ultimately halt the prosecution of corruption in every level of government.In this era of Super Pacs buying elections, lawmakers legislating for their biggest donors and judges ruling for their benefactors, the Menendez case could be a moment for the government to finally re-establish some basic, minimum commitment to the “law and order” notions that politicians love to tout. No doubt, that’s what federal prosecutors are trying to do here.The problem is that supreme court justices have for years been legalizing – and personally engaging in – similar kinds of corruption. At the same time, top Democrats are constantly assuring justices that no matter how repugnant their behavior, there will be no serious challenge to their power.Considering that, the high court may feel emboldened to use the Menendez case not to counter Americans’ perception that the government is hopelessly rotted through with corruption, but to instead make the rot even worse.Justices could use the case to further whittle down the definitions of terms such as “bribery” and “official act” to almost nothing – thereby making corruption not a crime, but the legal, court-approved ethos of American governance.
David Sirota is a Guardian US columnist and an award-winning investigative journalist. He is an editor at large at Jacobin, and the founder of The Lever. He served as Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign speechwriter More