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Prosecutor accuses US Senator Menendez of greed-driven corruption as trial commences

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NEW YORK — ⁣In the opening of his corruption ‍trial, Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez was depicted by a federal‍ prosecutor as a politician driven by greed, willing to disrupt local ‌criminal investigations and assist foreign governments in return for bribes, including gold bars.

The prosecutor, Lara Pomerantz, informed the jury on Wednesday that Menendez, the senior senator⁤ from New Jersey, utilized​ his wife as an intermediary. He attempted to aid Egypt in securing billions‍ in U.S. ‌military assistance and⁤ further the business and‍ legal interests⁣ of two businessmen from ⁣his state involved in local criminal ⁤cases.

“Robert Menendez, for years, has been​ betraying the people he was elected to serve by accepting bribes,” ⁢ Pomerantz stated during the ‌prosecution’s⁢ opening statement in​ Manhattan federal court.

She further added, “This case revolves around a public official who prioritized greed, who placed ⁤his‌ own interests above his duty to the people, who put his power on⁤ the auction ⁢block. This was not your typical politics. This ⁤was ​politics driven by profit.”

Prosecutors have labeled Menendez‍ as the key player in a five-year‌ scheme where he accepted ⁤hundreds‍ of thousands of ⁢dollars in bribes in return for political favors​ and assistance to the governments‌ of ‍Egypt and Qatar.

According to prosecutors, the bribes received by Menendez and his ⁣wife, Nadine Menendez, included cash, gold bars, mortgage payments, and a Mercedes-Benz convertible. The⁤ 70-year-old, three-term senator has pleaded not guilty to⁤ 16 criminal charges including bribery, fraud, acting as a foreign ​agent, and obstruction. Wael Hana‍ and‌ Fred Daibes, the two ⁢New Jersey businessmen being tried alongside him, have also pleaded not guilty.

The defense lawyers will also ⁣present their ‍opening statements.

Nadine Menendez, 57, has also been charged and pleaded not guilty. She is set to face trial on July 8, with the delay resulting from what her lawyers have ⁣described as a serious medical‌ condition.

The senator’s trial could extend until early July. This is the senator’s second trial on bribery charges,⁤ which cost him the leadership of⁢ the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Menendez’s previous trial concluded in 2017​ in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Earlier‍ in the ⁢day, U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein selected 12 jurors and six alternates, including an investment banker, a commercial litigator, a retired economist, a doctor,⁤ and multiple therapists. They‌ were chosen over 2-1/2 ⁤days of jury selection from a pool of 150 potential jurors.

Interference

Pomerantz outlined what prosecutors believe to be a complex⁣ and​ scandalous web ⁢of corruption spanning from 2018 to 2023, with the Menendezes accepting bribes‌ from Hana, Daibes, and an ⁤associate of Hana, insurance broker​ Jose Uribe.

Pomerantz stated that in return, the ⁤senator assisted Hana ⁤in securing a profitable⁣ monopoly on certifying that meat exports ⁣to Egypt adhered to Islamic law, and attempted to help Daibes obtain millions of dollars ⁣from a Qatari investment ⁢fund.

Menendez has also been accused of attempting to interfere in a federal criminal case against Daibes in New Jersey, including by recommending ​a candidate⁢ to be the ⁢top federal prosecutor there, and in state criminal cases involving two of Uribe’s associates.

Pomerantz said Menendez tried to cover his tracks by​ having ​his wife communicate ⁢about the bribes, but that she kept him informed.

Prosecutors have ⁤stated that⁢ FBI agents ‌discovered more than $480,000 of cash in ⁢the Menendezes’ home, much of ⁢it hidden in clothing, closets, and a‍ safe.

They also ‍stated that Hana and‌ Daibes provided more than $100,000 of gold bars to the Menendezes, while‍ Uribe assisted the couple‌ in purchasing ​the Mercedes. Pomerantz said the money for that purchase was disguised as a loan.

Uribe ⁢pleaded guilty​ in March to bribery and fraud and is expected to testify against Menendez.

While Nadine ​Menendez is not yet on trial, ⁣her husband’s lawyers have​ suggested ‍his defense might include an attempt to blame‌ her ‍for ⁤withholding information and making him believe his activities were⁤ lawful.

Robert Menendez‌ became a​ senator in 2006. Prior to being indicted, he would have‍ been favored in his Democratic-leaning state to win a fourth full Senate term in November.

However, any re-election‌ bid now would be a long shot,⁣ reflecting recent⁤ polls of voters that⁤ show overwhelming disapproval of Menendez’s job performance.

Menendez has suggested that he would try if acquitted to run as an ⁢independent. Only 9% of⁤ voters polled in March by Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill said they would⁣ prefer him to another Democrat or a Republican.

The senator has resisted calls to resign made from across the political spectrum.

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Truth Media Network
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