Bob Menendez to face trial on bribery and corruption charges

Posted March 20, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a long-shot appeal from Sen.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, clearing the way for a federal trial this fall for the Democrat.

Menendez, who is accused of accepting gifts in exchange for political influence, claims his meetings with government officials were to discuss policy and not for the objective of garnering gifts and monetary contributions.

Menendez argued that his actions were protected by the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause, which offers broad protection to members of Congress against prosecution for actions they undertake as legislators.

When that appeal was denied, the case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which denied without comment to dismiss the charges against Menendez this week.

Menendez "has always acted in accordance with the law", Lowell added, and "remains confident that he will be vindicated when all the facts are heard at trial".

Last July, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that Menendez's actions amounted to "essentially lobbying on behalf of a particular party", and thus outside the "safe harbour" provided in the Constitution.

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The indictment alleges that Menendez intervened in a dispute between Medicare and Melgen at Melgen's request, and also with a contract in the Dominican Republic involving one of Melgen's companies.

U.S. District Judge William H. Walls ruled in 2015 that the trial should go forward.

Menendez's trial is scheduled to begin on September 6. Melgen is on trial in West Palm Beach, Florida, in a separate Medicare-fraud case. The verdict was set aside in 2009 because of misconduct by prosecutors.