Judge Rules Critical Evidence Inadmissible in Sen. Menendez Bribery Case

In a significant ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein barred prosecutors from presenting crucial text messages in the bribery trial of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. The judge determined that the “speech or debate” clause of the Constitution, which shields lawmakers from prosecution over official legislative acts, applied to the texts in question. This decision restricts the use of 2019 and 2022 messages allegedly showing Menendez and his wife discussing military aid to Egypt and potential quid pro quo arrangements.

Prosecutors argued the texts were vital to demonstrating how Menendez, as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, allegedly reassured Egypt and New Jersey businessmen that military aid was not delayed in exchange for bribes. They claimed the messages indicated a direct link between the flow of bribes and Menendez’s political actions. However, Judge Stein ruled that even mistaken information about legislative holds was protected, complicating the prosecution’s case.

Despite this setback, the corruption trial against Menendez continues, with a variety of charges still on the table. The trial, now in its third week, has included testimonies from witnesses such as an FBI agent involved in the search of Menendez’s home and individuals connected to the halal certification monopoly awarded by Egypt. The proceedings are expected to last until early July.

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