NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Latest on the trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and a wealthy donor (all times local):
The defense team in U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s bribery trial has opened with testimony from family members.
The New Jersey Democrat’s son testified about his father’s longtime friendship with co-defendant Salomon Melgen (MEHL’-gehn). Melgen’s wife also testified that the men were close and that Menendez attended their daughter’s wedding in the Dominican Republic.
Menendez is charged with taking free travel and luxury hotel stays from Melgen in exchange for political influence.
Earlier Monday, the judge denied the defense’s motion to dismiss the charges because they didn’t meet a narrower definition of bribery under a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The defense is expected to take a few weeks to present its case. The trial is in its seventh week.
The judge overseeing in U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s case says he won’t dismiss any charges against the New Jersey Democrat.
Judge William Walls ruled against defense lawyers’ arguments that the charges should be dropped because they didn’t meet a narrower definition of bribery under a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reversed the conviction of Republican former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Walls ruled Monday after federal prosecutors rested their case last week. The defense will now begin presenting its case.
Menendez is charged with accepting free flights on a private jet and other gifts from wealthy Florida doctor Salomon Melgen (MEHL’-gehn) in exchange for pressuring government officials to take actions favorable to the friend’s business interests.
The two men deny the charges and say the gifts were a result of their longtime friendship.
A decision is looming in the trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez that could lead to the dismissal of charges and alter the legal landscape for future corruption cases.
A judge could rule on Monday whether to dismiss part of the indictment against the New Jersey Democrat.
At issue is whether prosecutors can use what’s called the “stream of benefits” theory to prove that Menendez took bribes from a wealthy friend over several years in exchange for Menendez’s influence with government officials.
Defense attorneys say a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidated the theory. They have argued prosecutors haven’t linked any alleged bribes to specific actions by Menendez.
Prosecutors say that’s not necessarily required under the law, and that a dismissal could “broadly legalize pay-to-play politics.”