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Sen. Bob Menendez Gets More Bad News Over Bribery Case

Sen. Bob Menendez’s attempt to toss out the Justice Department’s bribery case against him Monday morning just got denied by a federal judge in Newark.

According to CNN, Judge William Walls heard more than three hours of argument as defense lawyers tried to persuade him to throw out the case in light of a 2016 Supreme Court decision overturning former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s bribery conviction.

But the judge was not having it. The trial, now in its seventh week, will turn to the defense case as lawyers for the New Jersey Democrat and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy ophthalmologist from Florida, try to convince jurors that prosecutors have wrongly twisted a longtime friendship into an illegal bribery scheme.

The Justice Department has accused Menendez of accepting political contributions, free rides on private jets and a swanky hotel suite in Paris from Melgen in exchange for agreeing to pressure other high-level federal officials in the executive branch to help resolve his wealthy friend’s business problems — “official acts” prosecutors claim put Menendez on the hook under federal bribery law.

Lawyers for the defense urged judge Walls that the prosecution’s overarching “stream of benefits” theory — where many gifts are exchanged for a variety of political favors over a period of several years — cannot survive post-McDonnell. They claimed that the prosecution had to show a direct link between a specific gift followed by a specific political favor.

Te judge was unpersuaded and, according to the report, reaffirmed it as a valid legal theory of bribery.

Appearing to read from a lengthy written opinion he drafted ahead of time, the judge ultimately concluded: “McDonnell is not antagonistic to the stream of benefits theory.”

“We are living in a real world of reality and common sense,” Walls said. “The jury will decide whose version of what happened or didn’t happen is more likely than not.”

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