Judge Nap Explains Charges Against One of Obama's Top Foreign Policy Critics
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) vigorously defended himself Wednesday night after a federal grand jury indicted him on corruption charges.
Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an outspoken critic of the administration's policies on Cuba and Iran, defiantly stated that this will not be the end of his political career.
The 61-year-old Menendez was indicted on 14 counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud. He’s accused of using his office to improperly benefit a political donor who allegedly offered the senator an array of perks, including trips on his private jet and access to an exclusive Dominican resort.
Menendez lashed out at the Justice Department for mischaracterizing his relationship with a longtime friend, eye doctor Salomon Melgen, who was also indicted.
"Prosecutors at the Justice Department were tricked into started this investigation three years ago with false allegations by those who have a political motive to silence me. But I will not be silenced," he emphatically stated.
Menendez said prosecutors "don't know the difference between friendship and corruption" and are "twisting" his actions into something improper.
Judge Andrew Napolitano was asked this morning whether he thinks prosecutors will be able to prove their case.
Napolitano said he sees some weakness in Menendez's argument because the senator failed to report for years the alleged benefits he received from Melgen.
Those included lavish hotel rooms in Paris, luxury flights on Melgen's private jet, with Melgen also allegedly making contributions in Menendez's name to other Democrats' campaigns.
Overall, he said the case is a "very, very complex, interwoven story."
Tucker Carlson noted that senators should know the rules about disclosing trips aboard private planes. Napolitano said he doesn't know what excuse Menendez would give for not doing that.
Napolitano said based on Menendez's defiant words last night, it seems like he intends to take the stand in his own defense at trial.
He explained that what happens next will be determined by whether prosecutors can convince Melgen to take a plea agreement and testify against Menendez.
If that happens, Napolitano said the government's case would be "very strong" and Menendez should consider a plea deal as well.
"If they don't do that, you're going to see a colossal battle of legal titans," he said, pointing out that Menendez is a classic liberal Democrat, but is also President Obama's "principal adversary on Iran, Cuba and Israel."
Menendez said late Wednesday he will "temporarily" step down from his powerful Foreign Relations Committee post.
Watch the full discussion above, and hear more from Judge Napolitano, tonight at 8/11p ET on "The O'Reilly Factor."