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Justice Department to re-try Sen. Bob Menendez on bribery, corruption charges
20 January 2018, 05:22 | Floyd Cook
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Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen have pending requests to dismiss the charges based on what they called the prosecution's inability in the first trial to show connections between Melgen's gifts to Menendez and the senator's meetings and conversations with government officials, which are at the heart of the bribery charges.
Menendez, a Democrat, is running for reelection as U.S. Senator this year, and this prosecution is set against a backdrop in which control of the U.S. Senate is at state.
A trial last fall resulted in a hung jury.
Now, the Department of Justice wants a do-over. Bob Menendez, speaking outside the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton before the inauguration of Gov. Phil Murphy.
Menendez's seat could still be safe in his blue state: No Republicans now facing Menendez have shown any serious fundraising efforts, and Menendez has $3.9 million in the bank, according to his latest campaign finance report.
Melgen, who has been convicted on other separate counts, has yet to be sentenced, and some political observers believe the federal authorities may seek to offer him a plea deal on the earlier case to testify against Menendez in the upcoming trial. If they wanted to, he said, they should "bring it on".
On Friday the senator's office issued a statement batting away the case against Menendez as baseless.
"We regret that the DOJ, after spending millions and millions of taxpayer dollars, and failing to prove a single allegation in a court of law, has made a decision to double down on an unjust prosecution".
That case ended after a juror, who was excused from deliberations due to vacation plans, told the media that the panel was deadlocked.
Menendez was accused of accepting bribes from political donor Salomon Melgen.
The first trial began the week of Labor Day and lasted until mid-November.
Defense lawyers argued that Menendez and Melgen were longtime friends with no corrupt intent to commit a federal crime.
Both Menendez and Melgen have maintained their innocence.
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