A federal judge declared a mistrial in the corruption case of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) Thursday after the jury became deadlocked.
What was Menendez accused of?
According to CNN, Menendez was charged with conspiracy, bribery, and honest services fraud related to abusing the power of his office. Prosecutors said Menendez accepted gifts — including more than $600,000 in political donations, a luxurious hotel suite in Paris, and free rides on a private jet — from Dr. Salomon Melgen, an ophthalmologist, in return for political favors. Both denied the accusations.
If Menendez had been convicted of the charges, he could have faced a decadeslong prison sentence.
What did the judge say?
Judge William Walls declared a mistrial in the case after speaking with all the jurors, according to CNN.
"I find that you are unable to reach a verdict and that further deliberations would be futile and there is no alternative but to declare a mistrial," he said.
What did Menendez say?
In remarks to reporters, Menendez thanked the jurors "who saw through the government's false claims and used their Jersey common sense to reject it."
He thanked New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D) who spoke on his behalf and said Booker could “easily” go on to serve his country “in the highest of all of the land.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 16, 2017
He thanked those who stood by him during the trial.
"To those who were digging my political grave so that they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won't forget you,” he added.
Sen. Menendez: "To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won't forget you." pic.twitter.com/IlBKiSFQKu
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 16, 2017
What does it mean?
CNN noted that the mistrial is “a blow” to the Justice Department after a nearly five-year investigation, but also denies Menendez a “clear vindication” in the case.
The mistrial also virtually eliminates the possibility that Menendez would resign or be removed from office before Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) leaves office in January 2018, meaning the Republican won’t be able to select a replacement and Democrats will retain the seat.
Prosecutors did not immediately say if they intend to refile charges against Menendez.
In a statement provided to NJ.com, a spokesperson for the Justice Department also thanked the jury, adding, "the department will carefully consider next steps in this important matter and report to the court at the appropriate time."