May 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

What to know about Bob Menendez's corruption trial as jury selection begins

Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is surrounded by media while departing a Manhattan court following an arraignment on new charges in the federal bribery

Bob Menendez departs a Manhattan court on March 11. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Sen. Bob Menendez's (D-N.J.) federal criminal trial over charges that he traded his influence for "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in bribes — including in gold bars — is set to kick off Monday.

Why it matters: This is the second corruption trial in Menendez's Senate career, but has already cost him the powerful gavel of the Foreign Relations Committee in addition to support within his own party.

The big picture: The trial proceedings at Manhattan federal court are expected to begin with jury selection Monday.

  • The trial could last five to eight weeks, per Reuters.
  • Menendez faces a total of 16 felony counts.

Flashback: Menendez was previously indicted on unrelated federal bribery and corruption charges in 2015. The case ultimately ended in a mistrial in 2017.

What is Menendez accused of?

Menendez was indicted on bribery charges last September alongside his wife, Nadine Menendez, and a trio of New Jersey businessmen — Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes.

  • Prosecutors alleged he used his position to enrich the co-conspirators as well as the government of Egypt.
  • In exchange, he accepted "hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes" in the form of cash, gold bars and even a Mercedes-Benz convertible, prosecutors said.

Zoom in: Menendez and his wife were charged with three counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.

What about the superseding indictments?

The allegations against Menendez expanded in October, when prosecutors charged him with conspiring to act as a foreign agent on behalf of Egypt.

  • Nadine Mendendez and the businessman, Hana, were also charged in the superseding indictment.
  • Menendez pleaded not guilty to the additional charge later that month. His wife and Hana also pleaded not guilty to the charge.

State of play: Menendez was hit with another superseding indictment in January, in which prosecutors accused him of accepting bribes from the businessman Daibes in return for helping the government of Qatar.

What has Menendez said about the allegations?

In the wake of the initial indictment in September, Menendez resisted calls to resign and insisted that he would be exonerated.

  • He railed against the case against him in a Senate speech in January, saying he was indicted for things many senators do during legislative and diplomatic processes.
  • "Under the government's theory, it may be a crime for members of the Senate to make introductions to companies and constituents in their own state, to foster investment in their state," he said.

What to watch: Earlier this month, Menendez told CBS News that he hadn't ruled out testifying at his trial.

  • "That's to be determined," he said of potentially taking the stand.

What about Nadine Menendez?

Nadine Menendez, who is facing 15 counts, will be tried separately from her husband as she is receiving treatment for a "serious medical condition," per CBS News.

  • Her trial is tentatively scheduled to begin July 8.

What about the other defendants?

Menendez will be tried alongside two of the New Jersey businessmen, Hana and Daibes, per NBC News.

  • The third businessman, Jose Uribe, ultimately pleaded guilty to bribery in March and agreed to fully cooperate with prosecutors.
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