In the Senate. Bob Menendez corruption trial, prosecutors highlight wife’s desperate finances

NEW YORK – Senator’s attorneys. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial showed jurors hundreds of text messages, emails and phone calls over two days that show the desperate financial situation of his girlfriend-turned-wife before New Jersey businessmen said she had known for a long time that no one would come to her aid.

Prosecutors obtained evidence through testimony from an FBI agent for a second day Wednesday as they sought to show that Menendez, 70, conspired with three businessmen and his wife, Nadine Menendez, 57 years, in a corruption scheme that enriched the couple with gold bars. , hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and a luxury car.

The Menendezes and two of the businessmen have pleaded not guilty, while the third has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify. Nadine Menendez’s trial was postponed until July after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Through the lengthy communications presentation scheduled to continue through Thursday, prosecutors sought to trace the relationship between Menendez and the woman he began dating in early 2018, then known as Nadine Arslanian.

Prosecutors say the trajectory of the relationship coincided with a bribery scheme that led the senator to help a businessman and co-defendant, Wael Hana, win an exclusive contract with Egypt to certify that all exported meat of the United States met religious requirements, while assisting two other businessmen financially and helping them obtain favorable results in criminal cases in New Jersey.

Jurors saw text messages Wednesday in which Menendez and Arslanian exchanged affectionate feelings, with a kiss or a heart emoji. In one message, Arslanian told the senator: “You can never lose me because I will never let go. »

Further communications showed that during the summer of 2019, Arslanian was at risk of losing his home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, after missing nearly $20,000 in mortgage payments.

Hana provided the money to save the house, where Menendez moved after marrying Arslanian in 2020. Prosecutors say the money was part of bribes the couple received while the senator helped the business of Hana to obtain its monopoly on the certification of meat exports to Egypt.

Defense attorneys say Menendez did nothing outside the bounds of what politicians usually do for their constituents. The 13 gold bars found during an FBI raid on the house in 2022 belonged to Nadine Menendez, they say, and the reason there was $480,000 in cash in jackets, boxes and a safe -strong was that the senator was traumatized by the loss of his family’s fortune. before his birth.

Menendez also said through his lawyers that his wife kept him informed of his financial problems and that he did nothing illegal.

Among other charges, Menendez is accused of acting as a foreign agent of Egypt. After his fall arrest, he was forced from his powerful post as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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