Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is on trial for a slew of corruption and bribery charges and today was the day he was hoping that all, or at least some, would be tossed by the judge. That hope burned to ash, as Judge William H. Walls decided not to dismiss any of the 18 charges lobbed against Menendez by federal prosecutors (via Star-Ledger):
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.
U.S. District Judge William H. Walls had postponed ruling on a motion to dismiss until after hearing all the evidence put forward by the prosecution, which rested Wednesday after six weeks of testimony in Newark.
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.
Menendez’s fellow Democratic colleagues are rather mum about the whole case, often employing evasive maneuvers about whether he should resign if convicted. The senator’s legal defense team have taken rather desperate measures, even describing the whole prosecution as “anti-Hispanic,” which fell flat because anyone with cognitive function knows that’s just ludicrous. The number of Jersey voters who want Menendez gone if convicted has spiked as well—from 50 percent to 84 percent in September alone. The embattled Democrat also tried to request special time to vote in the Senate, another request that was rejected by Walls, who said that Menendez’s job was no different than that of a cab driver.