Judge declares mistrial in New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez bribery trial

KABC via CNN              
  
                          KABC via CNN

A judge has declared a mistrial in the bribery trial against sitting Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.

Regardless of the verdict, the case has rocked Menendez's political career.

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls declared a mistrial after jurors were not able to reach a unanimous verdict during more than 15 hours of deliberations this week.

A federal judge presiding over the corruption and bribery case against Sen.

"They're the best when they're together", Menendez Jr. said on the witness stand. While saying they had "reviewed all the evidence slowly, thoroughly and in great detail", they concluded: "We can not reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges, nor are we willing to move away from our strong convictions".

Mr. Menendez, 63, a powerful Democrat, and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy eye doctor and political donor from Florida, were charged in an 18-count indictment.

Federal prosecutors would then decide whether to bring another case against him.

The Senator was facing 18 counts of corruption and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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Prosecutors also claimed that Mr Menendez secured visas for Dr Melgen's former girlfriends and helped lobby U.S. officials on a port security contract the doctor owned in the Dominican Republic.

Deliberations began seven days ago, after two years prepping for trial.

Federal prosecutors have the option to retry the case, as a mistrial does not invoke "double jeopardy". But U.S. District Judge William Walls on November 13 told jurors to go home, clear their heads and try again.

Addressing reporters, an emotional Menendez said that "certain elements of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and of our state cannot understand, or even worse, accept that the Latino kid from Union City and Hudson County can grow up to be a United States senator and be honest".

Following the announcement of the mistrial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the case. "He is one of only twelve U.S. Senators to have been indicted in our history", McConnell said in a statement.

He added the trial "shed light on serious accusations of violating the public's trust as an elected official, as well as violations of the Senate's Code of Conduct". "... I have full faith in the ethics committee". Menendez's defense attorneys repeatedly asked Walls to declare a mistrial.

Indeed, Menendez today seemed very much like a candidate who intends to seek another term, and his odds of success aren't bad.

Among the charges against Menendez are that he worked to counter a claim against Medicare overbilling for Melgen, in exchange for luxurious gifts such as vacations, private jet trips and $750,000 in campaign donations.

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