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MSNBC Weighs in on Democratic Senator: Corruption Case Called ‘Overwhelming’

It did not take long for MSNBC to weigh in on the corruption case against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Even though Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., took a front-row seat for the Wednesday opening of Menendez’s trial, MSNBC host Ari Melber said that this might be a case the liberals lose.

Menendez is charged with corruption and accused of wrongfully helping a friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen, who is charged with committing with more than $100 million in Medicare fraud.

“Today, a big political question put to a serious test. What counts as bribery today in America?” Melber said after the first day of testimony.

“Prosecutors throwing the book at him, saying there’s bribery, conspiracy and lying. Prosecutors say he accepted over half a million dollars worth of private flights, free vacations and political donations from the south Florida doctor who received political favors from Menendez in return, including help with fraudulent Medicare patients and visas for this donor’s girlfriends,” he said.

“The case against Menendez as a legal matter doesn’t look close, it looks overwhelming,” Melber said.

“We don’t know what will happen and if he will be vindicated,” he said. “… (I)f a politician can take the kind of gifts that Menendez has already taken and be acquitted, then you have to wonder if there’s something wrong with all of these corruption laws in the first place.”

Although on the trial’s opening day the judge wrangled with a defense attorney and at one point told him to “shut up,” on Thursday it was the prosecution that was in for a strong talking to.

“It’s not going to be a tabloid trial,” U.S. District Judge William H. Walls said after sending away the jury. “I’m not just going to let you swish and swash nonsensical scenarios that really don’t even make for a good pulp fiction story.”

Prosecutors sought to show extensive details of hotel rooms where Menendez stayed, at which points Walls delivered his comments.

“Whether these defendants engaged in bribery does not depend upon whether the senator chose a more expensive room,” Walls said. “We’re not talking about Days Inn. We’re talking about very upscale lodging in Paris.”

He rebuked prosecutors for implying Menendez couldn’t afford the room and suggesting he wanted a bribe to sleep with a woman at the hotel.

“I laugh,” Walls told J.P. Cooney, a deputy chief in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. “It’s ridiculous what you’re asserting.”

Prosecutors say Melgen bribed Menendez with trips on his private plane, luxury vacations and campaign contributions, and that in return Menendez helped Melgen’s girlfriends obtain visas and used pressure to advance Melgen’s financial interests.