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Senator in court: Day thirty-one

Senator in court: Day thirty-one

Day 31

For better or worse, Bob Menendez may soon find out what happens to him as his corruption trial in federal court nears its conclusion. Menendez’s lawyers attacked the integrity of the government’s prosecution, saying they failed to prove the allegations against a man who was once one of the most powerful men in the U.S. Senate. The trial began on May 13.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: After Fred Daibes’ attorney concludes his argument Thursday morning, federal prosecutors will present their rebuttal, followed by instructions to the jury from U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein. After that, it’s up to the jury, which could begin deliberating as early as tomorrow. No one knows how long that will take.

DAYS SINCE ACCUSATION: 291

DAYS SINCE THE END OF THE LAST CRIMINAL TRIAL AGAINST MENENDEZ: 2,426

MISSED VOTES: 43
Menendez missed four votes on Wednesday.

As a reminder: In the 2017 corruption trial of Bob Menendez, the jury deliberated for four days before returning a no-verdict. Ten of the twelve jurors (83%) found Menendez innocent. The judge declared the trial void, the Justice Department dropped the charges, and Menendez was re-elected by 11 points against an opponent who had spent nearly $40 million of his own money on the campaign.

And if you are following
: It has been 43 years and 68 days since a U.S. Senator from New Jersey was last convicted of accepting bribes.

In Menendez’s own words:“We have exposed the government’s misrepresentations and exposed its lies.”

Bonus line from the fee book: “It is not the case that diplomatic contacts with Egypt are like talking to Darth Vader.”

FEE’S LINE IS UNBEATABLE: A “ROLLING BLOB OF CHANGING AND EVOLVING CONCLUSIONS
Senator Menendez’s lawyer asks jurors to refrain from speculation when considering corruption charges by Dana DiFilippo of the New Jersey Monitor: “Menendez’s attorney, Adam Fee, told jurors Wednesday that the “painfully thin” evidence presented by “overzealous” prosecutors instead forces them to speculate and create a “trap of shifting and evolving conclusions” to believe that the senator, a Democrat, took bribes to interfere in domestic criminal cases and act in the interests of foreign officials. ‘This is not a boxing match. This is not a political debate. You don’t choose story A or story B. You don’t choose what makes more sense to you about a story you’re told. Your oath obligates you to follow the law,’ Fee said. ‘Prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bob performed official acts in exchange for bribes. They did not.’ Fee opened a full day of closing arguments for the defense in Manhattan federal court, where he and two lawyers for co-defendants Wael Hana and Fred Daibes implored the jury to acquit all three men.”

PATRIOTISM > TEMPTATION
Senator Bob Menendez’s lawyer cites patriotism as reason for his client’s acquittal Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press: “Sen. Bob Menendez’s lawyer cited patriotism as a reason for his client’s acquittal Wednesday, telling a jury in federal court it would be a ‘win for this country’ if it dismissed the government’s bribery charge against the Democrat… Fee said the government had failed to prove ‘that Bob’s actions were anything other than what we expect of our elected officials.’ ‘He did his job. And he did it well,’ Fee added. The lawyer warned jurors to resist the temptation to believe the government’s ‘salacious story about a corrupt politician, because it’s not in there.’ Then, as he concluded his argument, he made an acquittal sound patriotic, telling the jury, ‘The United States wins when weak cases brought by overzealous prosecutors are dismissed.'”

UNITED STATES v. MENENDEZ: DID IT REALLY DIE HERE TODAY?
Menendez’s lawyer calls the bribery case against him “painfully thin” by Maria Cramer and Maia Coleman of the New York Times: “‘This case is over here and today,’ Mr. Fee said. ‘Because they failed to meet the very high standard of proving that Bob’s actions were anything but what we expect of our elected officials.’ Mr. Fee ended his marathon closing argument just before the lunch break, testing the patience of jurors who had also endured a five-hour argument by prosecutors. Jurors had arrived awake and refreshed on Wednesday morning, but as closing arguments progressed, some appeared to grow tired and restless. Some fidgeted. Others looked at their watches. One juror had his eyes closed.”

The money did not come exclusively from bribes
Menendez’s lawyer delivers closing argument in corruption trial against Senatorby Sabrina Souza, Nicki Brown and Kara Scannell on CNN: “Senator Bob Menendez’s defense attorney concluded his closing argument Wednesday by saying the case against the New Jersey Democrat was ‘shaky and corrupt to its core.’ … ‘They want you to conclude that every dollar, every piece of gold, every item of value that you’ve heard about in this case has to have been a bribe,’ he said.”

IF YOU MISSED IT: WILL HANA AND FRED DAIBES ARE ALSO IN COURT
“The United States wins” if Menendez is acquitted, says his lawyer says POLITICO’s Ry Rivard and Daniel Han: “(The jury) also heard closing arguments Wednesday afternoon from a lawyer for Wael ‘Will’ Hana, an Egyptian businessman accused of bribing the senator with gold, a fake job and other items for his wife, and a lawyer for Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer also accused of bribing the senator, his longtime friend, with cash and gold bars. The businessmen’s lawyers did not dispute that the gold or cash the FBI found in the Menendez’s home came from their clients, but they said the government has not proven it was bribes and, in fact, cannot show when or why the gold or cash got there. ‘You don’t bribe a close friend,’ Daibes’ lawyer Cesar de Castro told jurors. A third New Jersey businessman, Jose Uribe, has pleaded guilty to bribing Menendez by buying a Mercedes Benz for his wife, Nadine. Uribe is cooperating with federal prosecutors. Fee and Hana’s attorney, Larry Lustberg, used their closing arguments to attack Uribe’s credibility and distance their clients from him.”

EVERY TIME WE ARGUE IT ALMOST BREAKS MY HEART
Menendez proclaimed his “resurrection.” Then he fell in love According to Corinne Ramey of the Wall Street Journal: “After his first public corruption case ended in a mistrial in 2017, Sen. Bob Menendez had a message for his supporters from the steps of the courthouse in Newark, N.J.: ‘Today is the day of resurrection.’ Instead, just weeks later, the powerful Senate Democrat began dating a glamorous woman from Lebanon whose friends sought influence from lawmakers, laying the groundwork for his downfall. Now Menendez, 70, is back in court facing corruption charges related to those new friends, with few supporters and little hope of restoring his political career.

* Courtroom sketch by Jane Rosenberg

SENATOR BEFORE TRIAL: DAY ONE | DAY TWO | DAY THREE | DAY FOUR | DAY FIVE | DAY SIX | DAY SEVEN | DAY EIGHT | DAY NINE | DAY TEN | DAY ELEVEN | DAY TWELVE | DAY THIRTEEN | DAY FOURTEEN | DAY FIFTEEN | DAY SIXTEEN | DAY SEVENTEEN | DAY EIGHTEEN | DAY NINETEEN | DAY NINETEEN (AND A QUARTER) | DAY TWENTY | DAY TWENTY-ONE | DAY TWENTY-TWO | DAY TWENTY-THREE | DAY TWENTY-FOUR | DAY TWENTY-FIVE | DAY TWENTY-SIX | DAY TWENTY-SEVEN | DAY TWENTY-EIGHT | DAY TWENTY-NINE | DAY THIRTY