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NJ Sen. Robert Menendez ‘put his power up for sale’: prosecutors

Federal prosecutors have introduced a mountain of text messages, emails and other exchanges between U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, his wife Nadine, and several New Jersey businessmen now accused of bribing the senator. (Canva illustration/

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez “put his power up for sale” by accepting bribes in exchange for using his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to benefit Egypt and Qatar and to sway criminal investigations, prosecutors said in closing arguments in his trial on Monday.

“You heard all the evidence,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni said as he summarized the prosecution’s case at the end of the two-month-long trial. “You heard how a sitting U.S. senator took hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes from two businessmen to protect from anyone and everyone who would stand in their way.”

The case is vast and complicated, spanning a tangle of shady business deals, Formula 1 bribes and a halal monopoly. Monteleoni asked the jury to hone in on the “clear pattern of corruption” of the senator and his two co-defendants, walking them through the highlights of the case with a slide presentation.

“It wasn’t enough for him to be one of the most powerful people in Washington,” Monteleoni said.

Federal prosecutors at the Southern District of New York allege Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were linked in a bribery scheme with N.J. businessmen Wael Hana and Fred Daibes in which the senator and his spouse  accepted gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz and “sham” paychecks in exchange for intervening in criminal cases, pressuring a USDA executive to give a co-defendant’s company an exclusive monopoly on halal exports from the U.S. to Egypt, and backing military sales and financing for the country.

Hana and Daibes are being tried along with Menendez. Nadine’s trial was postponed to give her time to recover from breast cancer.

During a 2022 raid, federal agents found more than $480,000 in cash stuffed in closets, jacket pockets and old boots, and more than $100,000 worth of gold bars, according to court documents.

The embattled senator’s lawyers have pinned most of the blame on Nadine Menendez, who married him in 2020 — arguing that she misled him about her financial difficulties and the help she asked for from the businessmen. They also argued that the wads of cash stashed around his residence were because of his Cuban heritage.

Monteleoni pushed back on the idea that Menendez, 70, was duped by his wife throughout his closing statement, reaffirming the senator’s involvement in each alleged crime.

“You don’t get to be chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by being clueless,” the attorney said, highlighting an example of a time his wife did withhold information from him, but he pestered and complained to her about not telling him what was going on.

The attorney also referenced the cryptic language Menendez and others would give “the perfect amount of deniability” to their scheming.

After a meeting with Daibes, one of the co-defendants in the case, Monteleoni said that Menendez repeatedly googled the price of gold bars.

“It’s not a coincidence,” the prosecutor said. “It’s a bribe.”

Jurors watched closely and took notes as Monteleoni spoke intently. Menendez also looked on, taking notes.

His daughter, MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez, was present in court.

In March, Menendez was hit with new obstruction charges alleging he lied to the feds by claiming through his lawyers he believed thousands of dollars in bribes given to his wife Nadine were loans.

He faces a total of 18 bribery and obstruction charges.

The prosecution is expected to continue their summations on Wednesday, which are expected to wrap up after around two and a half more hours, followed by lawyers for Menendez and two co-defendants.


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