As Ed Morrissey pointed out yesterday, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is off the hook… for now. Even if there isn’t another corruption trial to come (which is still up in the air) he will likely be facing a full investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee alongside other luminaries such as Al Franken and even Roy Moore if he somehow manages to win a seat.

The Menendez victory dance was a bit offputting to say the least, and even in his moment of temporary victory he had to find someone to blame for all of his legal troubles. Who better than the FBI? And why would they have it out for him? Because they’re a bunch of racists, obviously.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is citing racism as the reason the FBI investigated him for corruption.

The case against him ended in a mistrial Thursday after jurors twice said they were deadlocked, but Menendez says the entire investigation into his activities was fueled by “certain elements” of the FBI and the state who had a problem with his race.

“Certain elements of the FBI and of our state cannot understand or even worse accept that the Latino kid from Union City and Hudson County can grow up to be a United States senator and be honest,” Menendez said at a news conference Thursday. “I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have come to tell me that the FBI went to them and asked them, ‘What can you give us on Menendez?’”

Seriously? You’re going to play the race card now? There are plenty of “Latino kids” from Jersey, as well as black kids, Asian kids and white kids, who all grew up to be successful and nobody sees any need to question their integrity. You don’t suppose living a lavish lifestyle well beyond your obvious sources of income had anything to do with it, huh?

Also, you seem to be ascribing racist motives to the fact that the FBI was coming up to known associates of yours and asking them questions. There’s another word for that process actually. I believe the technical term is… an investigation.

One aspect of what this means for the Senator’s future is worth considering now. In his coverage yesterday, Ed said, “The question for Democrats will be whether Menendez’ innate value to them is outweighed by the damage the party will take for backing him in next year’s elections.” That may be a factor in the decisions the Democratic Party makes going forward, but I would say it’s at least somewhat conditional. It’s true that the bar is much lower for the Senate Ethics Committee than an actual criminal trial, but the potential punishment and public fallout is also far less severe. The Senate hasn’t expelled anyone since the 1800s, and according to Article I, Section 5, it takes a two-thirds vote to do so. In these hyperpartisan times, does anyone honestly think they’ll get that many Democrats to go along with the idea?

It’s made even more unlikely by the fact that the jury failed to bring in a conviction. Some sort of censure is far more likely, assuming they do anything at all. And Democrats in Congress have been censured before and stuck around to finish out their careers. (Charlie Rangel, anyone?) The Democrats are collectively licking their chops over the possibility of taking back the Majority Leader’s office next November. To what degree that represents reality remains to be seen, but they clearly don’t want to risk a seat in blue New Jersey and an even longer scandal story in the middle of that effort.

Meanwhile, here’s a short video of Menendez breaking down in tears following his mistrial, but before he decided to play the race card.