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New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial begins. Here’s what to know.



New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez's corruption trial begins. Here's what to know.
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Washington — Jury choice started Monday within the corruption trial of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who’s accused of buying and selling his political affect for money, gold bars and a brand new Mercedes-Benz convertible. 

No jurors had been chosen when courtroom adjourned within the early night. Many potential jurors indicated that they thought they have been unfit to serve and have been privately interviewed by the decide. About three dozen have been dismissed, and greater than 100 potential jurors have been requested to return to the federal courthouse in New York Metropolis on Tuesday for additional questioning. 

The allegations date again to 2018, across the time the Democratic senator started relationship the lady who’s now his spouse, Nadine Menendez, who was additionally indicted within the corruption probe. Prosecutors say Menendez offered political favors to 3 New Jersey businessmen and secretly helped the governments of Egypt and Qatar. 

Latest courtroom filings revealed Menendez’s potential protection methods, together with incriminating his spouse and asserting that stockpiling money was a “coping mechanism” after “two vital traumatic occasions” in his life. 

Wearing a darkish blue swimsuit and a pink tie, Menendez was seated alongside his authorized staff within the row in entrance of two of his codefendants, sometimes fidgeting and tapping his fingers on the desk. All three have pleaded not responsible and Menendez hasn’t dominated out testifying

The trial may final six or seven weeks, ending in late June or early July, U.S. District Decide Sidney Stein stated Monday. 

It is the second time in lower than a decade that Menendez, who stepped down from his highly effective chairmanship of the Senate International Relations Committee after he was charged in September, is on trial on corruption fees. His first case led to a hung jury in November 2017 in New Jersey. 

Here is what to know. 

What are Menendez and his spouse charged with? 

Menendez and his spouse have been initially charged with three legal counts in September 2023 — conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit trustworthy providers fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion beneath coloration of official proper. 

The preliminary indictment detailed a years-long corruption scheme by which Menendez allegedly used his affect because the then-chairman of the highly effective Senate International Relations Committee to secretly profit Egypt; pressured a U.S. Division of Agriculture official to guard a enterprise monopoly Egypt granted to a New Jersey businessman, Wael Hana; to intrude in a legal investigation and prosecution by the New Jersey Legal professional Normal’s Workplace associated to a second New Jersey businessman, Jose Uribe, and his associates; and tried to affect a federal prosecution of a 3rd New Jersey businessman, Fred Daibes. 

A superseding indictment in October 2023 added a fourth cost alleging the couple conspired to behave as a international agent for Egypt. Prosecutors say Menendez and his spouse offered Egyptian officers, through Hana, with “extremely delicate” and nonpublic details about the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and U.S. army assist to Egypt. The senator additionally allegedly ghostwrote a letter on behalf of Egypt that sought to persuade his Senate colleagues to launch a maintain on $300 million in assist to Egypt. 

“Any you want something you will have my quantity and we’ll make every thing occur,” Nadine Menendez allegedly texted an Egyptian intelligence official in March 2020, days earlier than arranging considered one of a number of conferences between her husband and the official. 

In January, a second superseding indictment included allegations that Menendez made favorable feedback in regards to the Qatari authorities as Daibes was searching for a multimillion-dollar funding from an organization with ties to the federal government.

Menendez was indicted on a dozen new legal fees in March in a 3rd superseding indictment, bringing the entire fees to 16. The extra fees embody obstruction of justice, public official performing as a international agent, bribery, extortion and trustworthy providers wire fraud. Nadine Menendez, whose trial was separated from her husband’s attributable to a “severe medical situation,” faces 15 fees. She has additionally pleaded not responsible. 

Prosecutors allege that in alternate for the senator’s use of his energy and affect to counterpoint the businessmen, they offered the Menendezes with lavish items, together with money, gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, furnishings and funds for a house mortgage as Nadine Menendez was going through foreclosures on her dwelling. 

When investigators executed a search warrant on the couple’s dwelling in June 2022, they discovered over $480,000 in money stuffed in envelopes and coats and 13 gold bars value greater than $100,000. They found almost $80,000 in a secure deposit field at a close-by financial institution. 

After the preliminary indictment, Menendez stated that for 30 years he withdrew 1000’s of {dollars} every month from his private financial savings account in case of emergencies. The “old style” behavior, he stated, had roots in his household’s expertise in Cuba.

Who’re the opposite defendants? 

Hana knew Nadine Menendez years earlier than she began relationship the senator. Initially from Egypt, Hana lived in New Jersey and operated IS EG Halal, a start-up that quickly grew to become the only real firm to certify halal merchandise imported to Egypt, regardless of Hana having no earlier expertise within the halal business. 

Hana and Nadine Menendez have been usually the intermediaries between the senator and Egyptian officers, arranging dinners at costly eating places and conferences in his Senate workplace, in accordance with courtroom paperwork. Prosecutors say Hana put Nadine Menendez on the payroll of his firm “in a low-or-no-show job” after the senator promised to make use of his energy to facilitate international army gross sales to Egypt. 

When a crash left Nadine Menendez with no automobile in December 2018, she turned to Hana, who related her with Uribe, his enterprise affiliate who had been implicated in an insurance coverage fraud case. The subsequent month, the couple and the 2 businessmen agreed that Menendez would intervene within the insurance coverage fraud case, the indictments say. In return, the costs allege, Uribe helped purchase Nadine Menendez a black Mercedes-Benz convertible, assembly her in a restaurant parking zone handy over $15,000 in money that she used for the down cost, and later arranging automobile funds. 

Across the identical time, Egypt granted a monopoly to Hana’s agency in a deal that offered a “income stream” for Hana to pay the Menendezes, the indictments say. However the monopoly additionally elevated prices for different U.S. meat suppliers and after U.S. officers raised objections with Egypt, Hana requested the senator’s assist to strain the Division of Agriculture to again off. 

By summer season 2019, prosecutors say Nadine Menendez, who was tens of 1000’s of {dollars} behind on her mortgage and going through foreclosures, sought assist once more from Hana and Uribe. Hana’s firm, they are saying, paid $23,000 to deliver the mortgage funds updated whereas Menendez sought to strain New Jersey officers to finish the fraud investigation linked to Uribe. 

It wasn’t the primary case that Menendez interfered with, in accordance with the indictments. In late 2020, the senator met with an individual who would later be nominated to be the U.S. Legal professional for the District of New Jersey, criticizing the workplace’s prosecution of Daibes, a New Jersey actual property developer and affiliate of Hana’s. Daibes was charged in 2018 with acquiring loans beneath false pretenses. However when the particular person instructed that he might should recuse himself from the prosecution, Menendez knowledgeable him that he would suggest another person to the White Home for the U.S. legal professional nomination, prosecutors alleged. 

Via 2021 and 2022, after Menendez publicly praised the federal government of Qatar, which prosecutors instructed helped Daibes land a take care of a Qatari investor, and because the senator sought to proceed to intrude within the federal prosecution of Daibes, the actual property developer allegedly gave Menendez gold bars, money and a recliner. 

“One kilo value of gold,” Menendez allegedly searched on-line, hours after having dinner along with his spouse and Daibes in Could 2022. 

Lower than a month later, federal brokers executed search warrants on the Menendezes’ dwelling and secure deposit field. 

In keeping with prosecutors, Uribe stopped making funds on Nadine Menendez’s Mercedes after that and informed her that he would say the funds have been a mortgage if investigators requested. Menendez and his spouse then allegedly sought to cowl up the mortgage and automobile funds by writing checks to Hana and Uribe that have been characterised as funds for loans, prosecutors stated. That prompted legal professionals for Menendez and his spouse to make “false and deceptive statements” to investigators in 2023, the indictment stated. 

Uribe pleaded responsible to seven fees, together with conspiracy to commit bribery, trustworthy providers wire fraud, obstruction of justice and tax evasion, and agreed to cooperate with investigators earlier this 12 months. 

Luisa Garcia contributed reporting.