Judge Knocks Off a Few, But Not All, Counts Against Menendez

Justice Department would have fewer counts to pursue in a retrial

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was cleared on several, but not all, counts against him for corruption by a federal judge. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Less than a week after the Justice Department said it would seek to re-try Sen. Robert Menendez after his corruption trial ended in a mistrial last year, a federal judge has knocked out seven counts against him.

According to NBC 4 in New York, Wednesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge William H. Walls forbids the government from seeking retrial on those counts. The judge left the rest of the government’s case intact, though. Walls declared a mistrial in November after individually interviewing members of the jury after it deadlocked. 

After the judge’s ruling, Menendez flashed what has become an increasingly confident and defiant side about the case. 

“It just goes to prove that the government was wrong from the get-go,” he told Roll Call. “Hopefully the government will review based upon that whether or not they should even proceed. But in either event, I have every expectation to be fully exonerated.”

The counts Walls dismissed concerned alleged bribery involving political donations to the New Jersey Democrat by Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

The government could still pursue 11 counts against Menendez and Melgen, including bribery and fraud. The senator also faces one count of making false statements for allegedly lying on Senate disclosure forms.

If the government follows through on seeking a retrial, it could complicate Menendez’ re-election plans. The senator’s seat is up in November and he has given no indication he would not run again. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race as Solid Democratic

Last month, Menendez said the Justice Department needed to make a decision soon on whether to come at him again

“I believe their decision must come within the next 30 days,” Menendez told reporters in December, adding, “We would have the ability to present a motion to say prosecute or dismiss... And if you want to prosecute, bring it on.”

Joe Williams contributed to this report. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.