At Sen. Bob Menendez’s bribery trial, prosecutors highlight his wife’s desperate finances

At the ongoing bribery trial for Senator Bob Menendez, prosecutors have been presenting evidence that highlights the financial struggles of Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, prior to assistance from New Jersey businessmen whom she had a long-standing relationship with. The evidence includes hundreds of text messages, emails, and phone calls that span over two days, provided by an FBI agent.

The prosecution aims to demonstrate that Senator Menendez, aged 70, was part of a bribery scheme with three businessmen and his wife. They allege that Menendez used his political influence to secure benefits for these businessmen in exchange for financial gains, including gold bars, large sums of cash, and a luxury car for the couple.

Nadine Menendez, aged 57, two of the businessmen, and one of them have pleaded not guilty. The third businessman has pleaded guilty and is scheduled to testify. Nadine Menendez’s trial was postponed until July due to her breast cancer diagnosis.

The prosecution is focusing on tracing the relationship between Menendez and Nadine Menendez, who was known as Nadine Arslanian at the start of their relationship in early 2018. The prosecution claims that the development of their relationship coincided with a bribery scheme that led to Senator Menendez helping one of the businessmen, Wael Hana, secure an exclusive contract with Egypt to certify all meat exported from the U.S. to Egypt.

Some of the text messages shown in court on Wednesday revealed affectionate sentiments between Menendez and Nadine Menendez. There was also evidence of financial distress, such as Nadine Menendez being at risk of losing her home due to missed mortgage payments, with one businessman, Hana, providing the necessary funds to save the property.

The defense lawyers argue that Menendez was only assisting his constituents within the norms of politics. They claim that the 13 gold bars found during an FBI raid on their home belonged to Nadine Menendez, and the large amounts of cash found were due to a trauma the senator experienced related to the loss of his family’s fortune before he was born.

In addition to the bribery charges, Menendez faces accusations of acting as a foreign agent of Egypt. Following his arrest, he was forced to relinquish his powerful position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.