Prosecutors accuse Sen. Bob Menendez of having 'sold the power of his office' during bribery and corruption trial

 July 9, 2024

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has been on trial for the past two months over allegations that he corruptly accepted bribes in exchange for using his substantial influence and political power to benefit close allies and foreign governments like Egypt.

A federal prosecutor on Monday told the jurors in the federal case that Menendez "sold the power of his office" and displayed a "clear pattern of corruption" in accepting bribes in exchange for favors, ABC News reported.

The New Jersey senator has pleaded not guilty to the multiple felony counts against him, has refused to resign from the Senate despite intense pressure to do so, and is even running for re-election as an independent despite polling support in the low single digits.

Charged with bribery and corruption

Sen. Menendez, his wife Nadine, and three New Jersey businessmen were all federally indicted last year on felony charges of bribery and corruption that involved an alleged years-long scheme.

The senator is accused of accepting bribes in the form of envelopes of cash, gold bars, a luxury convertible, home mortgage payments, and other financial benefits in exchange for using his influence and power to help protect the interests of the businessmen, including interfering in criminal investigations, and aid the Egyptian government.

During closing arguments on Monday, federal prosecutor Paul Monteleoni told jurors, "Robert Menendez, the senior U.S. senator from the state of New Jersey, the ranking member and then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, put his power up for sale."

"It wasn't enough for him to be one of the most powerful people in Washington," the prosecutor added. "Robert Menendez wanted all that power and he also wanted to use it to pile up riches for himself and his wife."

Prosecution outlines Menendez's "corrupt quid pro quo" schemes

Sen. Menendez has attempted to blame everything on his wife Nadine and claim ignorance of her activities but prosecutors have countered those claims with evidence of the senator's knowledge and involvement, according to Courthouse News.

Nadine served as the "go-between" in Menendez's "corrupt quid pro quo" schemes, Monteleoni explained as he told jurors, "The timeline tells you what happened. When Menendez hears that Nadine can get paid, Menendez springs into action again and again."

One example pointed to by prosecutors is the gold bars discovered during a search of the senator's home, which his wife owned. He claimed the gold bars had been inherited from her Lebanese family, but prosecutors highlighted serial numbers that proved otherwise and Google searches by the senator on the value of a kilo of gold immediately after they'd been received from co-defendants.

Senator blames his wife -- who is recovering from cancer

CBS News reported that Sen. Menendez's apparent strategy to blame his wife Nadine is exceptionally risky and could backfire on him with the jury.

Compounding that risk is the fact that the senator's wife is being tried separately later this year because she is currently recovering from breast cancer surgery and treatment.

As for Menendez, the Associated Press reported that he was dismissive of the prosecution's closing arguments when he left the federal courthouse on Monday and told reporters, "The government is intoxicated with their own rhetoric."

He mockingly asserted that the prosecutors "spent two hours on charts, not witnesses that came before the jury" and "two hours telling jurors about what they believe conversations should be that they never heard."

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