Monday's HOT MIC

Monday's HOT MIC

Cue the world's smallest violin.

After raising Sen. Robert Menendez’s hopes last week, a federal judge crushed them on Monday morning.

Save your schadenboner for the (inevitable?) conviction-plus-jail-time, but this will do nicely for now:

U.S. District Court Judge William Walls refused to toss any of the 18 charges in the corruption case against Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, despite last week casting doubt on a legal theory that’s at the heart of the prosecution’s case.

Walls last week cast doubt on the “stream of benefits” theory — in which a public official's actions can be defined as bribery if those actions can be linked to gifts received over a lengthy period of time. Much of the prosecution’s case against Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen relies on the theory. Melgen, prosecutors argue, gave Menendez private jet flights, hotel stays and about $750,000 in political contributions in exchange for official favors “as opportunities arose.”

The defense had argued that the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision overturning the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell invalidated the theory, even though the Supreme Court didn’t explicitly say so.

Walls didn’t agree.

“I see nothing in McDonnell that attacks the stream of benefits theory,” Walls said.

In other words, nobody seems to be arguing whether Menendez took all the goodies -- which alone might be almost enough to put him away.