Jury selection will begin in the corruption trial of Senator Bob Menendez

NEW YORK — Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat accused of accepting bribes in gold and cash to operate his influence to provide favors that would support three New Jersey businessmen.

Menendez, 70, will appear in federal court in Manhattan along with two businessmen – developer Fred Daibes and Wael Hana. All three pleaded not guilty. The third businessman pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the remaining defendants. The senator’s wife was also charged, but her trial was postponed at least until July.

” READ MORE: Bob Menendez is losing money while the New Jersey senator’s legal troubles escalate and his fundraising plummets

Opening statements were possible but unlikely ahead of Tuesday’s trial, which has already led to the fall of the senator’s political standing. After the allegations were announced in September, he was forced to step down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The three-term senator announced that he would not run for re-election this fall from the Democratic Party ticket, although he did not rule out that he would run as an independent.

This will be Menendez’s second corruption trial this decade. Previous proceedings based on unrelated allegations ended in a stalemate in 2017.

In the new case, prosecutors say the senator’s efforts on behalf of businessmen led him to take action to benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar. Menendez vehemently denies doing anything unusual in his interactions with foreign officials.

In addition to charges including bribery, extortion, fraud and obstruction of justice, Menendez also faces charges of acting as a foreign agent of Egypt.

Among the evidence his lawyers will have to explain are more than $100,000 worth of gold bars and more than $486,000 in cash found during a raid two years ago on his New Jersey home, including money stuffed in clothing pockets in his closets.

” READ MORE: Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife will face separate bribery trials, a judge has ruled

The Democrat’s wife, Nadine Menendez, was also charged in the case, but her trial was postponed for health reasons. He is still expected to be a major figure. Prosecutors say Nadine Menendez often acted as a liaison between men paying bribes and Menendez.

The senator’s lawyers said in court documents that they plan to explain that Menendez had no knowledge of some of the events because she kept him in the dim.

According to the indictment, Daibes provided Menendez and his wife with gold bars and cash to obtain the senator’s support in a multimillion-dollar deal with a Qatari investment fund, prompting Menendez to act for the benefit of the Qatari government.

The indictment also alleged that Menendez acted on behalf of Egyptian officials in exchange for bribes from Hana because the businessman entered into a valuable contract with the Egyptian government confirming that the imported meat met Islamic dietary requirements.

In a guilty plea a few weeks ago, businessman Jose Uribe admitted that he bought Menendez’s wife a Mercedes to get the senator’s support in influencing criminal investigations into his business associates.

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