**Written by Doug Powers
The bribery trial for N.J. Sen. Bob Menendez begins tomorrow, and his legal team would like the judge to remind the jury before things get rolling that, just because something might look like bribery, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s actually bribery (h/t @Kerpen):
Attorneys for Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen on Friday proposed a 144-page set of jury instructions that prosecutors claim is “filled with erroneous statements of law.”
The instructions begin with standard legal language, but when explaining the charges against Menendez, they delve into detail about the definition of bribery and “official acts.”
“To convict either the giver or receiver of bribery, you must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the person who gave or received the thing of value did so in exchange for the public official agreeing to perform specific official acts at the time of the alleged quid pro quo with the understanding that what was being given or received is a bribe, and not merely with the hope or expectation that the public official would return the favor in some unspecified way at some point in the future,” the proposed instructions read.
“Gifts to public officials are not automatically bribes. Senators are people too, and they are allowed to have friends,” the proposed instructions read. “Senators and their friends are allowed to exchange gifts among themselves out of friendship or for other lawful reasons, and those gifts are not bribes because they are given out of friendship and not corruptly given in exchange for a specific official act.”
Team Menendez is ripping off Bill Clinton with those proposed instructions that basically say “it depends on what your definition of ‘bribery’ is.” At this point I’m also expecting Menendez’s legal team to ask the judge to remind the jury that an act doesn’t legally constitute a bribe unless the envelope was clearly marked “BRIBE” and initialed by all involved parties.
The jury should also be reminded that senators are people too, but not all people are senators:
After Menendez was elected to the US Senate in 2006, prosecutors say in the brief that Melgen began “a pattern of treating Menendez to weekend and week-long getaways in the Dominican Republic that would continue for the next several years.”
Melgen allegedly flew Menendez on his own private jet or on “equally luxurious travel” to his villa at Case de Campo, a luxurious resort in the Dominican Republic featuring amenities from beaches to polo fields. At one point, Melgen allegedly purchased a three-night hotel stay for Menendez at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Paris. Prosecutors say that Menendez never acknowledged these gifts on his annual financial disclosure forms.
Hey, who doesn’t have friends like that?
Meanwhile, Menendez is sounding the alarm about President Trump’s DACA decision:
A “law & order” lecture is is a pretty ballsy thing for a politician to put forward on the eve of his corruption trial.
**Written by Doug Powers