• Wed. Jun 12th, 2024

For a second time, Sen. Bob Menendez faces a corruption trial. This time, it involves gold bars

For a second time, Sen. Bob Menendez faces a corruption trial. This time, it involves gold bars


For the second time in a decade, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez faces a corruption trial Monday with his political career and freedom on the line in a criminal case that already has forced him out of one of the most powerful posts in Congress.

The 70-year-old New Jersey Democrat and his wife are accused of accepting bribes from three wealthy businessmen in his home state and performing a variety of favors in return, including meddling in criminal investigations and taking actions benefitting the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Menendez’s lawyers say he stayed within the rules and did nothing illegal. He has optimistically spoken about mounting a reelection campaign the summer if he is acquitted.

But even if he escapes without a conviction, as he did in a previous corruption prosecution in 2017, the damage done to his reputation could make a political comeback next to impossible.

FBI agents who searched the senator’s New Jersey home found a stash of gold bars, worth more than $100,000, and more than $486,000 in cash, some of it stuffed into the pockets of clothing hanging in his closets.

His fellow Democrats in Washington, D.C., appear to have already written him off, encouraging him repeatedly to resign.

“The evidence against him is vivid,” said Dan Cassino, executive director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll. “This isn’t paperwork or checks: it’s gold bars. The images are powerful, and given that New Jersey voters typically don’t know a lot about the officials representing them, this might be the one thing they know about Menendez.”

Menendez has maintained a defiant stance.

“I am innocent and will prove it no matter how many charges they continue to pile on,” he said after the indictment against him was updated again in early March to add charges that he tried to obstruct the investigation.

Menendez was forced to relinquish his powerful position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee soon after the revelation last fall of charges including bribery, fraud, extortion and acting as a foreign agent of Egypt.

Nadine Menendez, wife of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., leaves Manhattan federal court, Thursday, March. 21, 2024, in N.Y. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

Nadine Menendez, wife of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., leaves Manhattan federal court, Thursday, March. 21, 2024, in N.Y. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)



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