In 10th week, Menendez bribery trial goes to jury

NEWARK, N.J. — After 9 weeks of testimony and almost eight hours of closing arguments unfold over two days, a jury started deliberating Monday within the bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and a longtime buddy in a case that might have implications for a deeply divided Senate within the occasion of a conviction.

If the Democratic senator is convicted and steps down or is voted out by a two-thirds majority earlier than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leaves workplace Jan. 16, the term-limited Republican governor may appoint a alternative. A Democrat holds a snug lead in polls forward of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election.

Menendez is charged with accepting journeys on a personal jet, luxurious holidays and different presents from Florida eye physician Salomon Melgen in alternate for pressuring authorities officers to resolve Melgen’s $eight.9 million billing dispute with Medicare, a port screening contract within the Dominican Republic and different points.

Melgen additionally contributed greater than $600,000 to political organizations that supported Menendez instantly or not directly.

The males’s friendship predated the alleged bribery conspiracy by greater than a decade, and that relationship “destroys each and every one of the counts” in opposition to him, Abbe Lowell advised jurors in his closing argument Monday.

In a rebuttal argument, Justice Department lawyer Peter Koski quoted a pbadage from the jury directions that stated friendship can’t be used as a protection in opposition to bribery in all instances.

“The issue in this case is not whether Sen. Menendez and Dr. Melgen were friends — the issue in this case is whether they committed a crime together,” he stated.

Prosecutors characterised Menendez as Melgen’s “personal senator” throughout their closing argument final week, however Lowell advised jurors the federal government offered no proof of an precise settlement between the 2 males. He stated prosecutors as an alternative “desperately tried to create a quid pro quo by listing dates on one side and dates on the other side, and that vast divide in the middle they cannot fill.”

He badailed the federal government for its use of an FBI agent to introduce proof similar to emails and paperwork regarding conferences Menendez had and interactions along with his staffers, fairly than calling the precise folks to testify,

Prosecutors need jurors to “badume, fill in the gap, guess and speculate about what happened,” Lowell stated.

Neither man testified, however their attorneys deny any bribery badociation and say the presents have been reflective of their longtime friendship. Menendez contends his conferences and interactions with officers from the departments of State, Commerce and Health and Human Services have been on coverage points and to not foyer for Melgen.

On Monday, Koski accused the protection of getting a method that “comes down to distraction and misdirection.”

Though Menendez might have had curiosity in broader coverage points when he met with authorities officers, Koski stated, “he was working under the influence of Melgen’s gifts. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the law calls bribery.”

Menendez served within the U.S. House from 1993 till filling the Senate seat vacated when Democrat Jon Corzine grew to become New Jersey governor in 2006.

The trial is the primary main federal bribery trial since a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court determination overturned the conviction of former Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and narrowed the definition of official bribery. The choose within the Menendez trial used wording instantly from the McDonnell opinion in giving his directions to the jury final week.

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This story has been corrected to point out Christie’s final day in workplace is Jan. 16, not Jan. 18.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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