- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Justice Department moved Wednesday to cancel its corruption case against Sen. Bob Menendez, saying that it no longer saw a path to conviction given the constraints the court has placed upon it.

A jury last year was unable to reach a verdict on charges against Mr. Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, and the Justice Department had said it would try again. But after Judge William Walls dismissed some of the charges on his own last week, government lawyers said they are giving up on the rest of the case.

“From the very beginning, I never wavered in my innocence and my belief that justice would prevail,” Mr. Menendez said in a statement. “I am grateful that the Department of Justice has taken the time to reevaluate its case and come to the appropriate conclusion.

“I thank God for hearing my prayers and for giving me strength during this difficult time,” he continued.

The decision marks the latest embarrassment for a Justice Department that has seen a number of high-profile political corruption cases go sour, including the prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The Justice Department had accused Mr. Menendez of helping a friend, Salomon Melgen, grease the skids on a number of occasions with government agencies. Melgen, meanwhile, provided Mr. Menendez with vacations and flights on his private jet.

A jury was unable to reach a verdict on any of 18 counts in a trial last year. Then last week Judge Walls tossed out seven of the charges, saying there was not enough evidence of quid pro quo to sustain them.

The Justice Department said that made the case untenable.

“Given the impact of the Court’s Jan. 24 Order on the charges and the evidence admissible in a retrial, the United States has determined that it will not retry the defendants on the remaining charges,” the department said in a statement.

The decision could help Mr. Menendez, who polls show is among the least popular senators among their constituents. Mr. Menendez is up for re-election later this year.


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