GOP lawmaker: Menendez indictment undercuts two-tier system of justice claims 'to a degree'

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) on Friday said Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) indictment on federal bribery charges somewhat weakens Republicans’ claims that there are two systems of justice.

When asked if he thought the two-tiered justice argument was undercut by the indictment, Bacon said, “I think it does to a degree.”

“I have always believed in our rule of law, it doesn’t make it perfect for people, and people have flaws, but we have checks and balances… You have a jury system, you have appeals, so I trust our legal system to get it right in the end,” he said in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press NOW.

His remarks come as numerous Democrats, from congressional colleagues to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, have called for Menendez to resign. While the New Jersey senator did step down from his role as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, he said he is not going anywhere.

Bacon said if Menendez is guilty of what he was charged with, then he “deserves to be held accountable.”

“I feel the same way when it comes to President Trump,” the moderate conservative lawmaker said. “People have their day in court, and the prosecutors present their case, their’s appeals processes; We have a good legal system, the best we can have, with human beings running the whole thing.”

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Numerous Republicans have argued that a plea deal offered to President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, by the Justice Department (DOJ) in June was proof of an unbalanced system of justice. The deal in which Hunter Biden was expected to plead guilty to tax crimes and enter a diversion agreement relating to unlawful possession of a weapon ultimately fell apart.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and others have made the case that the younger Biden received a “sweetheart” plea deal because he is the president’s son, and at the same time, claimed the DOJ tried to put Trump in jail because he is Biden’s “leading political opponent.”

“If you are the president’s leading political opponent, the DOJ tries to literally put you in jail and give you prison time. But if you are the president’s son, you get a sweetheart deal,” McCarthy said after the plea deal was announced.

Other Republicans, including Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), have been skeptical of the argument that a two-tiered system of justice exists.

At the same time McCarthy and others, including House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), echoed this characterization of the legal system, Thune was hesitant to explicitly lean into the argument or criticize the DOJ.

 “I don’t know what else they got on him, but I do think the American people have to be convinced that the justice system treats everybody equally under the law,” Thune said.

Trump is currently facing four federal indictments related to falsification of business records, the handling of classified documents after leaving the White House and his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Hunter Biden was also indicted earlier this month on three federal gun charges. He is expected to appear for an in person arraignment on Oct. 3.

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