US Senator Bob Menendez files motion to dismiss corruption charges News
U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
US Senator Bob Menendez files motion to dismiss corruption charges

US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) filed a motion on Wednesday asking US District Judge Sidney Stein to dismiss charges that he allegedly conspired to act as a foreign agent of Egypt. The motion to dismiss relates to an indictment filed in October that accused Menendez of supporting the interests of several businessmen and the Egyptian government in exchange for “bribes.” Previously, he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The motion outlined two grounds for dismissal. The first was the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure (FRCP) 12(b)(3). The rule covers pretrial motions a defendant may raise “if the basis for the motion is then reasonably available and the motion can be determined without a trial on the merits.” FRCP 12(b)(3) covers motions such as improper venue, constitutional violation of the right to a speedy trail and failure to state a claim. The motion did not detail the specific defense.

The second ground offered and main argument of Menendez’s legal team involved FRCP 7(d). The rule allows courts to “strike surplusage from the indictment or information.” Surplusage is any language contained in the pleadings that is “unnecessary or irrelevant.” Menendez’s legal argument stated that the allegations made in the indictment offended the Speech and Debate Clause of the US Constitution. The clause provides congressional staff “immunity from criminal prosecutions or civil suits that stem from acts taken within the legislative sphere.” He argued any alleged acts that took place in the “legislative sphere” and are immune from prosecution and should be struck from the pleadings.

In an additional memorandum filed with the court, Menendez’s attorneys called the allegations against their client “outrageously false,” and an attempt to “distort reality.” The memorandum outlined specific defenses to each charge listed in the indictment. US governmental officials who brought the charges have not yet commented on the motion or memorandum.

The indictment filed in October was amended by a superseding indictment in January. The amended indictment alleges that Menendez also conspired with agents of Qatar in addition to those in Egypt. No new charges stemmed from the additional allegations.