DOJ files motion to dismiss Menendez indictment

DOJ files motion to dismiss Menendez indictment
© Greg Nash

The Justice Department moved on Wednesday to dismiss charges against Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Booming economy has Trump taking a well-deserved victory lap MORE (D-N.J.) after a federal judge tossed out several charges against the lawmaker last week.

"In light of the Court’s January 24, 2018 Opinion and Order and pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 48(a), the United States of America moves to dismiss the Superseding Indictment," Annalou Tirol, the acting head of the Justice Department's public integrity division, wrote in a motion to dismiss the indictment.

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The filing signaled that federal prosecutors had ultimately decided to give up their case against Menendez less than two weeks after they indicated in a court filing that they intended to put the lawmaker back on trial. 

“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,” Nicole Navas Oxma, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge William Walls moved last week to acquit Menendez and his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen, of seven of the 18 charges they faced in their corruption and bribery trial. Walls also announced that he would not preside over a retrial of the case.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Prosecutors alleged that Menendez accepted lavish vacations, gifts and campaign donations from Melgen, a wealthy Florida eye doctor, in exchange for using his office to benefit Melgen’s personal and business interests.

Menendez’s lawyers have argued that the gifts and vacations given to the senator were not the products of a corrupt bargain with Melgen, but rather stemmed from a decades-old friendship akin to a brotherhood.

After the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case on Wednesday, Abbe Lowell, the lead defense counsel for Menendez, praised the decision.

“In light of the results of a three month trial, all the jury said and the granting of our motion for acquittal on significant counts, we are pleased and grateful that the Justice Department made the right decision to end this case,” Lowell said.

“Despite the five years of this ordeal, Senator Menendez never wavered in his innocence and his commitment to the people of New Jersey.”

Menendez also hailed the decision as justice served, saying in a string of tweets that the Justice Department had arrived at the “appropriate conclusion.”

Menendez’s first trial, which ended with a hung jury in November, was rife with controversy, particularly after Walls dismissed one juror so she could attend a long-planned vacation. But after the dismissal, that juror told reporters that she believed Menendez was innocent and that the jury was divided on a verdict.

Eventually, the jury announced that it was unable to reach a unanimous decision, with 10 of the 12 jurors voting to acquit the senator.

The Justice Department waited two months after the mistrial was declared before it announced its intent to retry Menendez. The New Jersey Democrat has already spent years fighting the corruption allegations, and is expected to seek reelection later this year.

Updated: 1:41 p.m.