Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is in a world of trouble. The lawmaker’s effort to have his trial thrown out of court was thwarted by a federal judge on Monday. Menendez and friend Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen must still face 18 criminal counts.
“Very, very bad news for Bob Menendez,” tweeted POLITICO reporter Steven Shepard.
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“That is a huge blow for Senator Menendez. He had a decent chance to have some (if not all) of the charges dismissed. Judge disagreed,” tweeted Kurt Siegelin.
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A federal judge on Monday refused to dismiss any of the 18 criminal counts against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, clearing the way for the pair’s bribery trial to enter the defense phase.
Defense attorneys had argued a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the conviction of former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell narrowed the scope of federal bribery law to exclude the acts with which Menendez and Melgen were charged.
Menendez, the senior Democratic senator from New Jersey, has maintained his innocence since April 2015, when the Justice Department first announced an indictment accusing him and Melgen of swapping government favors for lavish gifts.
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As The Gateway Pundit previously reported, Menendez’s former senior policy adviser Mark Lopes, testified that the lawmaker helped with visa applications for friends of a wealthy donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen.
ABC News reports:
Under direct questioning from the government, former senior policy adviser Mark Lopes testified that Menendez emailed him in 2008 authorizing a letter of support from Menendez to be sent to consular officials regarding the visa applications of two sisters from the Dominican Republic.One of the emails sent around the time had a subject line that read: “Dr. Melgen’s request.” When the applications were denied despite Menendez’s signed letter, Lopes testified, Menendez instructed him to reach out to the U.S. ambassador. The sisters were friends of Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend of Menendez’s. The two men were indicted in 2015 and face multiple fraud and bribery charges. Prosecutors said they orchestrated a scheme in which Melgen gave Menendez gifts and campaign donations in exchange for Menendez’s political influence.
The New Jersey Democrat’s corruption trial kicked off to a rocky start.
U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls told a lawyer for Sen. Robert Menendez to “shut up for a moment” as the two engaged in a heated argument during the first moments of the New Jersey Democrat’s corruption trial.
Shortly after court proceedings began, defense attorney Raymond Brown criticized Judge William H. Walls for a line in his opinion on Friday that rejected Menendez’s request that the trial be recessed on days where the Senate is taking “critical” votes, so that the senator can be in Washington.
In 2015, Obama’s Department of Justice charged Senator Robert Menendez with corruption.
Federal prosecutors indicted Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez on corruption charges on Wednesday for allegedly using his Senate office to push the business interests of a friend and donor in exchange for gifts, according to the Justice Department.
“Robert Menendez, a U.S. senator, and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, were indicted today in connection with a bribery scheme in which Menendez allegedly accepted gifts from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to benefit Melgen’s financial and personal interests,” said Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, in a statement.