Judge denies Menendez's motion to dismiss bribery and extortion charges

Francis Chung/Politics/AP

During a press conference at the US Capitol on March 14, 2024, Sen. Bob Menendez (TNJ) speaks. (Francis Chung/POLITICO via AP Images)



CNN

A Manhattan judge on Thursday denied a motion to dismiss federal bribery and extortion charges. Sen. Bob Menendez On the basis of legislative immunity.

The New Jersey Democrat argued the charges violated the Constitution's doctrine of prerogatives and the speech or debate clause, which protects lawmakers from certain law enforcement actions aimed at their legislative duties.

Judge Sidney Stein on Thursday slammed the argument, ruling that the charges against Menendez cover conduct outside of “legislative acts” and that those legal protections are absent.

Menendez, his wife Nadine Menendez and three New Jersey businessmen were indicted in September as part of a bribery scheme. The indictment was updated a few times with additional charges as prosecutors filed new charges of acting as a senator. Foreign Agent of Egypt and accepting gifts from Qatar as part of a multi-year corruption scheme. Menendez pleaded guilty to the charge.

Menendez may appeal Stein's decision, which could delay his trial, which is set to begin on May 6. A separate motion to dismiss the charges on other grounds is also pending.

The senator's attorney, Adam Fee, told CNN that Menendez's team is reviewing the ruling and its legal options, adding that the court's decision “makes clear that a jury will have the final say on the government's allegations.”

“As we have said from day one, the indictment is a total distortion of the truth, and we continue to be fully confident that a jury will find the truth: that Senator Menendez did nothing wrong,” the statement continued. “We look forward to continuing the investigation, where we intend to clear the name of this dedicated lifelong public servant.”

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Thursday's decision comes just days after Menendez Innocent A dozen new charges including conspiracy, obstruction of justice, bribery and extortion. Prosecutors charged three Allegation of trespass Earlier this month he led his lawyers to provide false information in interviews with investigators, including saying the alleged illegal bribes were loans.

Menendez also faced an uproar Calls for resignation — including from his own party and his Senate colleagues — have been indicted since September. The lawmaker has pushed back, saying repeatedly that he will not resign and that he hopes to be acquitted.

CNN's Cara Scannell contributed to this report.

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