Federal Prosecutor Drops All Charges Against Menendez
Federal prosecutors have moved to dismiss all charges against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
The motion comes a week after a federal judge acquitted Menendez and his eye-doctor friend of seven of the 18 counts of related to bribery.
Menendez was tried last fall but the case ended in a hung jury.
In their motion Wednesday morning, prosecutor's cited the judge's decision last week.
The Democrat is up for re-election next year.
U.S. District Judge William Walls said prosecutors did not convincingly demonstrate that there was a clear exchange of payment by Salomon Melgen for the promise of an official act by Menendez.
Menendez, 63, was accused of using his political influence to help Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen in exchange for luxury vacations in the Caribbean and Paris, flights on Melgen's private jet and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to organizations that supported the senator directly or indirectly.
Prosecutors said Menendez, in return, pressured government officials on Melgen's behalf over an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute and a stalled contract to provide port screening equipment in the Dominican Republic, and also helped obtain U.S. visas for the 63-year-old doctor's girlfriends.
The defense argued that the gifts were not bribes but tokens of friendship between two men who were "like brothers."
Menendez has remained defiant and insisted on his innocence.
"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. I have devoted my life to serving the people of New Jersey, and am forever thankful for all who have stood by me. No matter the challenges ahead, I will never stop fighting for New Jersey and the values we share," Menendez said in a statement after the decision was announced.
"I've made my share of mistakes. But my mistakes were never a crime," he said in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.