Embattled Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez will now face a jury for 18 counts of bribery and corruption after a federal judge refused to drop any of the charges Monday.

This is the second time Menendez’s request to dismiss the charges has been denied.

From North Jersey:

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial will move forward after a federal judge on Monday declined to throw out any of the 18 charges against the Democratic senator and his co-defendant Salomon Melgen.

The highly anticipated ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls had the potential to deliver Menendez a legal and political victory in his years-long fight against the allegations while also undermining a legal theory federal prosecutors have used for years to build bribery cases against public officials.

…While certainly disappointing for Menendez, the judge’s ruling doesn’t necessarily mean that the senator’s defense is doomed. Walls was ruling on a defense motion arguing that prosecutors, who rested their case last week, had failed to present enough evidence to prove their accusations.

So-called Rule 29 motions are allowed in any criminal case, although dismissals on that basis are rare. As Walls explained, in ruling on the motion he had to consider the available evidence “in a light most favorable to the government.”

Menendez’s fate in the courtroom is now back in the hands of the jury.

The trial thus far has been interesting, with the prosecution alleging, among other things, that Menendez used his office to help his mega-donor friend’s girlfriends (yes, plural) with their entrance visas.

If you’re just now catching up on the Menendez trial and allegations, this is a great primer:

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