The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ordered a hearing into whether aides to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez can be compelled to testify before a grand jury about the senator’s advocacy for the business interests of a close personal friend.

The appeals court ruling said the grand jury is looking into gifts Menendez received from his friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, and actions the senator took on Melgen’s behalf. CNN reported March 6 that federal prosecutors are preparing to bring charges against Menendez. Spokesmen for the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey both said they could not confirm or deny the report. Tricia Enright, Menendez’s spokeswoman, said in a statement, “We believe all of the senator’s actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that.”

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