Friday wasn’t a good day for embattled Senator Robert Menendez.
After avoiding a conviction in November for allegedly exchanging favors for gifts and campaign donations from eye doctor Salomon Melgen, the Justice Department is reportedly about to take another shot at convicting the Democratic senator from New Jersey.
“An early retrial date is in the best interests of the public, and the United States is available to schedule a retrial at the Court’s earliest convenience,” the Justice Department wrote in a Friday filing.
The last trial, unfolding over 11 weeks, ended in a mistrial.
On her show “CNN Newsroom,” host Brooke Baldwin broke down the case on Friday with CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider:
“The Justice Department has told a U.S. Federal Court that it intends to retry Senator Bob Menendez on corruption and bribery charges,” Baldwin said, turning over to Schneider for details.
“Well, Brooke, you have federal prosecutors saying they’re going to give it another go when it comes to prosecuting New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez,”Schneider said. “So you remember it was back in mid November when jurors, they were actually the second round of jurors, they were hung. They told the judge that they couldn’t come to a decision in this case. This is a case that was an 11-week trial and involved numerous charges against Senator Menendez, including corruption, bribery, honest services fraud.”
“Basically federal prosecutors said that Senator Menendez’s friendship, relationship with a doctor was inappropriate,” she continued. “They said that he took gifts from the doctor amounting to travel on private jets, stays in luxurious hotels in Paris, all in exchange for some official actions as senator relating to Medicare and other issues that the doctor was concerned with.”
Schneider explained how this was a “difficult case to prove” for prosecutors because of a high bar set by the Supreme Court.
“But, of course, this was a difficult case to prove because the bribery standard was raised by the Supreme Court several years ago,” Schneider said. “So this was a very tough case for federal prosecutors. And since that decision in mid November for mistrial, federal prosecutors have been weighing whether or not to bring Senator Menendez back to trial. So today, they have decided that they will go back to this, that they will retry Senator Menendez.”
The CNN analyst then read a statement by the Justice Department.
“The conduct alleged in the indictment is serious and warrants retrial before a jury of citizens in the District of New Jersey. The decision to retry this case was made based on the facts and the law, following a careful review. The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
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