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U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) May Pin Blame on Wife

 

by Dana DiFilippo, New Jersey Monitor
April 17, 2024

Sen. Bob Menendez, set to face federal trial next month in a wide-ranging corruption scheme, may pin blame for his criminal troubles on his wife, a newly unredacted motion shows.

New Jersey’s senior senator may testify about conversations he had with his wife, Nadine, who’s also indicted along with three businessmen accused of bribing the couple for Menendez’s influence, to “decrease any inference of culpability on Senator Menendez’s part,” defense attorneys wrote.

Menendez and co-defendants Wael Hana and Fred Daibes are set to go to trial in May on allegations that Menendez and his wife accepted gold bars, cash, a luxury car, and more in exchange for helping the businessmen and the governments of Egypt and Qatar. Nadine Menendez’s trial has been pushed back to July because of a health crisis, while co-defendant Jose Uribe pleaded guilty last month.

Sen. Menendez may testify about communications he had with his wife that serve to explain his actions, the motion says.

“While these explanations, and the marital communications on which they rely, will tend to exonerate Senator Menendez by demonstrating the absence of any improper intent on Senator Menendez’s part, they may inculpate Nadine by demonstrating the ways in which she withheld information from Senator Menendez or otherwise led him to believe that nothing unlawful was taking place,” it says.

Parts of the motion, filed on Jan. 15, had been under seal, but several media outlets asked U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein to order the document to be unsealed, and on Tuesday, he did. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have battled over redactions in legal filings in the case, with prosecutors worrying some details could prejudice jurors while defense attorneys fearing they would reveal trial strategy.

The newly revealed portions show that Sen. Menendez’s attorneys expect Nadine Menendez will assert the “marital communications privilege” to persuade Stein to bar the couple’s conversations from court testimony.

Another unsealed portion contains several chatty text messages in September 2019 between Uribe and Nadine Menendez, who invited him over for cigars and “grand mariner (sic).”

Newly unredacted details also hint that things between the couple and one of their co-defendants, Hana, had soured even before federal investigators indicted them.

A recording made by a confidential source shows the senator cut off contact with Hana after he “swindled” the senator and “f–ed (over) Nadine” by promising to trade one of her rings for one of similar value but instead trading it for a cheaper bauble, the motion says.

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