A federal judge Monday declined to throw out federal bribery charges against Sen.
The defense is expected to take a few weeks to present its case.
Dr. Melgen's wife Flora flew in from the Dominican Republic to testify on the years of friendship between the two families.
On Monday, Walls instead cited a federal appeals court ruling, issued after McDonnell, that upheld the stream of benefits theory in cases where gifts flow to a public official "in exchange for a pattern of official action ... on an as-needed basis". Bob Menendez's case says he won't dismiss any charges against the New Jersey Democrat. Judge Walls dismissed Menendez motion to toss case, case will continue to defense today.
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Menendez's defense team argued the charges did not meet the narrow definition of bribery established by the 2016 US Supreme Court ruling that reversed the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
Menendez is on trial for bribery, conspiracy and failing to report gifts and political donations from his friend and co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.
Walls' rejection of the defense lawyers' arguments is a victory for prosecutors, who had said that dismissing the charges would torpedo almost all other bribery cases and open the door wide to graft.
In a blow to Menendez, Judge Walls accepted the government's position.
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In return, the government said, Menendez helped get visas for Melgen's girlfriends, aided a Melgen-owned company with a contract worth millions for port security in the Dominican Republic, and leaned on federal regulators after Melgen was accused of overbilling Medicare for almost $9 million. He said, "This idea of specificity doesn't make sense", adding, "McDonnell can not be a death knell" to the so-called "stream of benefits" bribery case.
"Menendez withheld information from his senate staff to hide the extent of his official action on Melgen", prosecutors also alleged.
But the judge on Monday ruled that the jury could determine that Menendez held the meetings because he "sought to pressure or advise" other officials to take official action, which counts as bribery under the McDonnell ruling.
If Menendez is convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison for the most serious charge of honest services fraud.
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