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

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

Washington — For the second time in his profession, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is heading to trial on corruption prices. This time, he is preventing allegations that he traded his political affect for money, gold bars and a brand new Mercedes-Benz convertible. 

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

Menendez, who stepped down from his highly effective chairmanship of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee after he was charged, has pleaded not responsible and hasn’t dominated out testifying

Latest court docket 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. 

Menendez shall be on trial with two New Jersey businessmen, who’ve additionally pleaded not responsible. 

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 below shade of official proper. 

The preliminary indictment detailed a years-long corruption scheme through which Menendez allegedly used his affect because the then-chairman of the highly effective Senate Overseas 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 Basic’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 supplied Egyptian officers, through Hana, with “extremely delicate” and nonpublic details about the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and U.S. army support 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 support to Egypt. 

“Any you want something you may have my quantity and we are going to make all the things 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 concerning the Qatari authorities as Daibes was in search of a multimillion-dollar funding from an organization with ties to the federal government.

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

Prosecutors allege that in change for the senator’s use of his energy and affect to counterpoint the businessmen, they supplied the Menendezes with lavish presents, 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 house. 

When investigators executed a search warrant on the couple’s house 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 practically $80,000 in a protected deposit field at a close-by financial institution. 

After the preliminary indictment, Menendez mentioned 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 mentioned, had roots in his household’s expertise in Cuba.

Who’re the opposite defendants? 

Hana knew Nadine Menendez years earlier than she began courting 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 trade. 

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 response to court docket 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 automotive 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 following month, the couple and the 2 businessmen agreed that Menendez would intervene within the insurance coverage fraud case, the indictments say. In return, the fees allege, Uribe helped purchase Nadine Menendez a black Mercedes-Benz convertible, assembly her in a restaurant parking zone at hand over $15,000 in money that she used for the down fee, and later arranging automotive funds. 

Across the identical time, Egypt granted a monopoly to Hana’s agency in a deal that supplied 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 carry 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 response to 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 below false pretenses. However when the individual instructed that he could 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. 

By way of 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 Might 2022. 

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

In response to prosecutors, Uribe stopped making funds on Nadine Menendez’s Mercedes after that and instructed 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 automotive funds by writing checks to Hana and Uribe that have been characterised as funds for loans, prosecutors mentioned. That induced legal professionals for Menendez and his spouse to make “false and deceptive statements” to investigators in 2023, the indictment mentioned. 

Uribe pleaded responsible to seven prices, 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. 

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Written by bourbiza mohamed

Bourbiza Mohamed is a freelance journalist and political science analyst holding a Master's degree in Political Science. Armed with a sharp pen and a discerning eye, Bourbiza Mohamed contributes to various renowned sites, delivering incisive insights on current political and social issues. His experience translates into thought-provoking articles that spur dialogue and reflection.

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