Wife of Sen. Bob Menendez Seeks Separate Trial

Wife of Sen. Bob Menendez Seeks Separate Trial


The sensational case of Nadine Menendez and her Democratic senator husband involves wads of cash, gold bars, and the Egyptian government.

The wife of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez on Monday sought to sever the government’s corruption case against her from that of her husband, according to a court document.

Nadine Menendez’s lawyers argued that a joint trial will prejudice her right to defend herself in a fair trial. They added that a joint trial would force the married defendants to choose between defending themselves or implicating one another, “as exercising their right to testify in their own defense may necessitate waiving their privilege against providing testimony adverse to their spouse.”

“Ms. Menendez’s interests in both maintaining the confidentiality of her privileged marital communications and exercising her spousal testimonial privilege without sacrificing her ability to testify in her own defense collectively support a finding of a ’serious risk’ that a joint trial will compromise her ‘specific trial rights,’” the lawyers said.

The pair pleaded not guilty in October after they were charged with taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen. They each face up to 45 years in prison.

According to the indictment, investigators found gold bars and envelopes stuffed with cash—more than $480,000 in total—inside jackets in the Senator’s apartment.

Following the charges, Mr. Menendez, who served as an important ally to President Joe Biden in the president’s efforts to reassert U.S. influence on the world stage, stepped down temporarily from his role as chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, until the case is resolved.

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Several Democrats, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, called on Mr. Menendez to permanently resign from the Senate.

“The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state,” Mr. Murphy said.

“It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere,” Mr. Menendez replied, claiming that prosecutors had mischaracterized routine legislative work.

“The excesses of these prosecutors is apparent,” he wrote. “The facts are not as presented.”

Suspicious Dealings

Mr. Menendez, his wife, and the businessmen—Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes—have all been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

According to the indictment, Mr. Hana brokered a deal between the senator and Egyptian officials in 2018. Mr. Menendez would sign off on military aid Washington had withheld over the country’s human rights record. In exchange, Mr. Hana would put the senator’s wife on the payroll of his company—which had the exclusive right to certify halal meat shipped to Egypt from the United States.

The senator later pressured the U.S. Department of Agriculture not to take any action to interfere with the company’s monopoly status, according to prosecutors.

As to the charges involving Mr. Uribe, Nadine Menendez was given $15,000 in cash as a downpayment on a luxury convertible after her husband asked an official at the New Jersey attorney general’s office to favorably resolve fraud investigations into Mr. Uribe’s associates.

According to the indictments, Mr. Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer and longtime donor to Mr. Menendez, gave the senator gold bars and cash after he attempted to influence a federal criminal case in New Jersey against Mr. Daibes for obtaining loans under false pretenses. Mr. Daibes pleaded guilty and received a probationary sentence in September.

Prosecutors are seeking to have Mr. Menendez forfeit his assets, including his New Jersey home, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, and about $566,000 worth of cash, gold bars, and funds from a bank account.

In October, a new indictment was added, charging Mr. Menendez with conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent for the Egyptian government, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Mr. Menendez maintained his innocence, replying in a statement that “piling new charge upon new charge does not make the allegations true.”

Reuters contributed to this article.

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