Former Menendez staffers push counter narrative at trial

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s former employees are telling a different story about an alleged bribery scheme than prosecutors have presented.

Several have testified at the Democrat’s trial that he was interested in policy issues and not advocating with executive branch officials on behalf of a wealthy friend.

Prosecutors introduced emails and meeting notes Thursday in an attempt to chip away at those claims.

Menendez and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen are charged in an alleged bribery scheme in which Melgen offered Menendez free flights on his private jet and other gifts in exchange for help with business issues. One of those was an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute.

Both men say the gifts were an outgrowth of their longtime friendship.

The defense could rest its case next week.

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