Witness testimony expected to begin in Bob Menendez trial

The bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey continues Thursday, with the first witness expected to take the stand as soon as Thursday afternoon. 

Wednesday’s proceedings consisted of opening statements, as the defense and prosecution offered very different portraits of the Democratic senator. Menendez, who is being tried separately from his wife, Nadine Menendez, stands accused of trading his influence and power to foreign governments and three New Jersey businessmen in a complex bribery scheme that allegedly spanned from 2018 to 2023.

“Public officials are supposed to serve the public,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz on Wednesday. “Menendez was a powerful elective, official and corrupt. He betrayed the people who were supposed to serve for bribes. Gold bars. A bogus job for his wife. Mercedes-Benz.”

The attorney for Menendez, Avi Weitzman, tried to distance his client from Nadine Menendez, saying the two live mostly separately lives. Nadine Menendez is expected to be a key player in the senator’s trial. 

Menendez is being tried alongside two of the businessmen — Hana, owner of the halal meat company IS EG Halal, and Fred Daibes, a real estate developer. All three have pleaded not guilty. A third businessman who was indicted, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty in March and confessed to buying Menendez’s wife a $60,000 Mercedes convertible to influence the senator. Uribe will testify during the trial, Pomerantz said. 

The judge in the case determined earlier this week that a psychiatrist who evaluated Menendez will not be allowed to testify about “two significant traumatic events” in the senator’s life that his lawyers claim explains why investigators found hundreds of thousands in cash in his home

Photo from the unsealed indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez, accused of accepting bribes including gold bars. 


Federal investigators found more than $480,000 in cash stashed in envelopes and coats, as well as 13 gold bars worth more than $100,000 when executing a search warrant at Menendez’s New Jersey home in June 2022. They also discovered nearly $80,000 in his wife’s safe deposit box at a nearby bank. 

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