DOJ: Menendez corruption 'clear and unmistakable'

The Justice Department is slamming Sen. Bob MenendezRobert MenendezDems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Lobbying World This week: GOP lawmakers reckon with Trump MORE’s push to get corruption charges against him dropped, saying that the “quid pro quo outlined in the indictment is clear and unmistakable.”

“The charges in this case are the result of a careful and professional investigation,” federal prosecutors said in court documents submitted Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT
The DOJ filed the documents in response to a push by Menendez’s legal team to have the case against him dismissed. The New Jersey Democrat's lawyers have raised questions about the government's tactics in the investigation.

Prosecutors fired back that Menendez's legal motions "do nothing to dilute or dispute" the Justice Department's case, according to the documents, adding that "the defendant's allegations of misconduct prove to be naked rhetoric that conflicts with the facts and the law."

Menendez’s arguments, the DOJ said, “rest upon false factual premises and specious legal reasoning, which serve only to undermine the credibility of their claims and demonstrate their eagerness to avoid a trial on the merits. ... [And] the defendants’ lack of candor demonstrates that they are so eager to allege misconduct that they are willing to misrepresent the facts and conceal material evidence in order to do so." 

The New Jersey lawmaker pleaded not guilty earlier this year to 14 federal counts of corruption, including conspiring to commit bribery and honest services fraud, in connection with his relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and political donor.

The Justice Department alleges Melgen bribed Menendez with gifts and donations to his legal defense fund, which was set up to pay for legal fees associated with federal and congressional ethics investigations.

According to the Justice Department court documents, Menendez is expected to be back in court on Sept. 17, the same day as the deadline for Congress to pass a resolution on the Iran nuclear deal. Menendez last week announced he opposes the deal, breaking with President Obama.

Monday’s court filings are the latest in a legal and rhetorical battle between the government and Menendez that began before he was indicted in April.

Abbe Lowell, a well-known attorney helping defend Menendez, said earlier this year that the Justice Department’s investigation was “fueled by heavy-handed actions of agents pressuring witnesses; and then it had more than its fair share of improper leaks to the press."

Federal prosecutors rejected those allegations in the court documents, writing that leaks are "improper."

“They are improper on principle, and because they are prejudicial to the investigative team, as well as the subjects of the investigation,” they add. “Whenever there was media attention to the investigation or allegations, the Government distributed an email to the investigative team with a reminder that there should be no contact with the media.” 

More in Senate

Senate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico

Read more »