Prosecutor: Sen. Menendez’s Response to Bribes ‘Wildly Abnormal’

Additional Coverage:

During the New York City corruption trial of Senator Bob Menendez, his lawyer made a strong plea to the jury for his acquittal on all charges, arguing that the prosecution failed to conclusively prove their case. Adam Fee, Menendez’s attorney, spoke to the jury in Manhattan federal court about insufficient evidence and gaps in the prosecution’s case, particularly questioning the connections made between Menendez and the over $100,000 in gold bars and more than $480,000 found at a property in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, during an FBI raid in 2022. Fee asserted that the evidence did not demonstrate that these assets were bribes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni argued that Menendez’s behavior was highly irregular, and he accused the senator of attempting to influence critical legal cases in New Jersey as a favor back to the businessmen who allegedly bribed him. These actions, Monteleoni claimed, included attempting to sway the former New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in 2019 to dismiss a criminal case against one of the businessmen, citing discriminatory actions against Hispanic truckers which Monteleoni described as a tactful cover for his real intent.

Senator Menendez, 70, insists on his innocence against allegations of accepting bribes, including gold and cash, from three New Jersey businessmen between 2018 and 2022 for business-related favors. The trial, now in its ninth week, also involves his co-defendants, businessmen Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, both of whom have pleaded not guilty. Another businessman implicated has already pleaded guilty and testified in the trial.

While Monteleoni highlighted past instances of Menendez’s unusual interventions, Fee emphasized the lack of direct evidence such as emails or texts linking the senator to the alleged bribes. Meanwhile, Menendez remains politically active, having announced his candidacy for reelection as an independent, despite pressure from some fellow Democrats to resign. His wife, Nadine Menendez, who is also charged in the case, has had her trial postponed due to her recovery from surgery.

Read More About This Story: