14:02, January 31 387 0 abajournal.com

2018-01-31 14:02:07
Justice Department moves to drop corruption case against Sen. Menendez

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the government decided not to retry Menendez and a co-defendant given the impact of the decision by Judge William Walls to acquit the pair on seven out of 18 charges. The New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico have stories.

The Justice Department had previously said it would retry Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision in their November trial.

In his Jan. 24 opinion, Walls tossed six bribery counts and one wire fraud count alleging Melgen made campaign contributions in exchange for official acts by Menendez. There is no evidence that the contributions were made in return for a specific promise by Menendez, Walls said.

“First Amendment values are implicated when the thing of value is a political contribution,” Walls said. “A close temporal relationship between political contributions and favorable official action, without more, is not sufficient to prove the existence of an explicit quid pro quo.”

Walls said the lack of quid pro quo evidence evoked Gertrude Stein’s observation that “There is no there there.”

Wall granted acquittal on three counts against Menendez, three counts against Melgen, and one joint count against both men.