Sen. Menendez presses for dismissal of corruption charges
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez has a message for the Justice Department: Try to prosecute me again on corruption charges or drop it.
The New Jersey lawmaker, whose bribery trial ended in a hung jury last month, said Thursday that he wants the charges thrown out and is seeking a decision from government prosecutors by mid-January.
“We would have the ability to present a motion to say prosecute or dismiss. And if you want to prosecute, bring it on,” Menendez said in an interview with Latino reporters in which he spoke about immigration and other issues.
Menendez was charged with accepting free flights on a private jet and luxury vacations from his co-defendant and friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, in exchange for using his political influence with executive branch officials. He has repeatedly denied the charges since the indictment was handed up in mid-2015.
After an 11-week trial that began in early September, jurors deliberated for seven days without reaching a verdict and U.S. District Judge William Walls declared a mistrial on Nov. 16. Several jurors said afterward that as many as 10 members of the panel favored acquittal.
“They didn’t believe in the facts; they had some really harsh words for the government,” Menendez said. “You can have a hung jury that’s 10-2 against you and two people just couldn’t agree, but when it’s 10-2 for you — and it’s not just the numbers, it’s what they said about the government’s case — I believe that’s the end of it.”
The Department of Justice hasn’t announced whether it plans to retry Menendez and Melgen.
Menendez is up for re-election next year. He did not say whether he would seek a fourth term.