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Former Assistant State’s Attorney: Menendez Is in Serious Trouble

“Bribery charges are the most serious charges that can be placed against a government official,” Thomas Cooke said in an interview on Wednesday.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) heads to trial today in federal court, facing charges of bribery. According to Thomas Cooke, a former assistant state’s attorney and assistant public defender in Maryland, Menendez is in serious trouble.

The trial centers on Menendez’s relationship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, who is a co-defendant in the case. The two men face 18 counts of fraud and bribery.

“The government alleges that the criminal behavior took place on a number of separate dates with a common theme — a relationship under which the senator is alleged to have advocated, as a senator from New Jersey, issues benefiting Melgen,” Cooke explained to CNN’s Chris Cillizza. “The charges are extremely serious and were brought after a considerable investigation and presentation to a grand jury. The grand jury issued an indictment (formal charges) on April 1. Each of the eight bribery charges alone carry up to 15 years in prison.”

Cooke told Cillizza that in his opinion, “bribery changes are the most serious charges that can be placed against a government official.”

Cillizza asked Cooke to “finish this sentence: ‘Bob Menendez is in _ trouble in this trial.’ Now, explain.”

“Bob Menendez is in very serious trouble in this trial,” Cooke responded.