Prosecutors have laid out a strong case against New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez in their indictment. But in the two years since it was unveiled, the Supreme Court has made it much harder to win a conviction.
The senator is charged with taking nearly $1 million in personal gifts and campaign cash from a longtime friend, allegedly in return for political favors.
Menendez says the favors were very much like those in the cases of Virginia ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell and former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose convictions wound up being overturned.
Prosecutors counter that friendship and bribery aren’t incompatible — and what’s key is the timing of the favors, often coming the same day Menendez was sent a hefty donation by Dr. Salomon Melgen.
The wealthy Florida ophthalmologist also treated Menendez (as both freely admit) to free vacations at celebrity-packed luxury Caribbean resorts.