From the Associated Press yesterday:
In a big defeat for Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, the judge at his corruption trial Monday refused to throw out any of the charges against him in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling narrowing the definition of bribery.
The decision by U.S. District Judge William Walls was a major victory for federal prosecutors, who had warned that dismissing the charges would torpedo nearly all other bribery cases and open the door wide to graft.
Walls rejected defense lawyers’ arguments that the allegations against Menendez didn’t meet the new definition of bribery contained in the 2016 Supreme Court ruling that reversed the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Menendez and his co-defendant, Dr. Salomon Melgen, are on trial for bribery. Among other allegations, the prosecution says that Menendez pressured U.S. officials to get the Dominican Republic government to honor a long-dormant port security deal with a company owned by Melgen.
The port security deal was uncovered by Tom Anderson, director of NLPC’s Government Integrity Project, and was the subject of a front-page New York Times story on February 1, 2013. NLPC provided information to the Times on an exclusive basis, apparently prompting the federal criminal investigation.
Anderson commented, “If the judge ruled otherwise, it would mean that the word bribery has no meaning. I’m relieved that this trial can go forward, so that the case can be decided on the evidence.”
According to NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm, “Our biggest fear was always that Menendez would escape on Constitutional grounds. The McDonnell case was wrongly decided. It is now being used to spring corrupt politicians. Menendez is not so lucky, however. Judge Walls made the right ruling.”