Justice Dept. Pushes Back Against Sen. Menendez’s Defense

WASHINGTON (AP) -

The Justice Department pushed back Monday against efforts by Sen. Bob Menendez to dismiss the corruption indictment against him, calling the case the result of an “exhaustive, focused and disciplined” investigation that spanned more than two years.

The new court filings from the government are the latest volley in a high-stakes, bitter court case involving the New Jersey Democrat and a wealthy Florida eye doctor accused of bribing him with contributions and gifts.

They represent the Justice Department’s first response to an aggressive attack on the indictment made last month by the defense team, which sought dismissal of the case and accused prosecutors of misconduct.

In urging a judge to reject the defense motions, prosecutors said they had clear evidence of a straightforward bribery scheme in which Menendez accepted campaign contributions and trips to Paris and the Dominican Republican in exchange for political favors on Melgen’s behalf.

“No ordinary constituent from New Jersey received the same treatment, and the quid pro quo outlined in the indictment is clear and unmistakable,” government lawyers wrote.

Menendez and Melgen have argued that the gifts were tokens of a decades-long friendship and did not represent any effort to curry political influence.