NEW YORK, Jan 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday it plans to retry Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez on bribery and corruption charges after a jury was deadlocked during a trial in November.
The government said in a court filing it wants a federal judge in New Jersey to set the “earliest possible date” for a retrial. Menendez, who has represented New Jersey in the Senate since 2006, is running for another six-year term this year, and the state’s Democratic leaders have supported his bid despite the federal charges.
“The decision to retry this case was made based on the facts and the law, following a careful review,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
A spokesman and a lawyer for Menendez did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Menendez, 64, is accused of accepting private flights, campaign contributions and other bribes from a wealthy patron, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, in exchange for official favors.
Melgen, who was separately convicted last year in Florida of perpetrating a massive Medicare fraud, will also be retried, the Justice Department said.
The case was the first high-profile corruption trial for federal prosecutors since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2016 limited their ability to bring such charges.
A second trial this year could pose a major distraction for Menendez and his fellow Democrats, who are already facing an unfriendly electoral map in their quest to wrest control of the Senate. Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 advantage but only have to defend eight seats, compared with 26 for Democrats and independents who caucus with them.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by David Shepardson and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington; editing by Grant McCool)