Juror asks judge in Menendez trial to repeat argument about definition of 'senator'

Juror asks judge in Menendez trial to repeat argument about definition of 'senator'
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The judge presiding over Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy MORE's (D-N.J.) corruption trial reportedly denied a juror's request on Tuesday to read back part of the defense's closing argument dealing with the definition of a "senator."

According to The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge William Walls rejected the juror's request, arguing that only testimony could be read back to the jury — not closing arguments.

The request came during the first full day of jury deliberations in Menendez's bribery and corruption trial, after closing arguments concluded on Monday. Jurors have not yet reached a verdict in the case.

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Federal prosecutors allege that Menendez took lavish vacations, political donations and gifts from Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida eye doctor, in exchange for using his public office to advocate on behalf of Melgen's personal and business interests. Melgen is a co-defendant in the trial. 

Lawyers for Menendez and Melgen argue that the benefits and gifts were not part of a quid pro quo, but were rather given in good faith as part of a decades-long friendship. 

Part of the defense's arguments hinged on who could be considered a constituent of Menendez. Melgen was not a New Jersey resident, but the senator's attorneys have argued that Menendez helped people based on issues, rather than on where they lived.

Also a key part of the jury's deliberations is whether Menendez took part in an "official act" on Melgen's behalf. The Supreme Court narrowed the definition of an "official act" last year in a decision overturning the bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in that case that so-called "official acts" do not include simply setting up meetings or making phone calls to other public officials.

Walls used language directly from that ruling in his instructions for jurors on how to apply the law to their decision.