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Sen. Bob Menendez’s Manhattan federal bribery trial launches with opening statements

Federal prosecutors set out Wednesday to persuade jurors that New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez wielded his affect as a veteran Democratic lawmaker in change for bribes — together with gold bars, tons of of hundreds of {dollars} in money and a Mercedes convertible.

Wearing a grey swimsuit, pink tie and a senate pin on his lapel, Menendez, 70, sat on the protection desk as prosecutors started laying out their case towards him throughout opening statements at his corruption trial in Manhattan federal court docket.

Prosecutors allege the senator doled out political favors to a few businessmen and acted as a international agent for the governments of Qatar and Egypt in change for bribes.

Bob Menendez
Opening statements start on the corruption trial towards Sen. Bob Menendez. Gregory P. Mango

Trial started Monday with jury choice, in a painstaking course of that lasted over two days and noticed dozens of potential jurors excused for bias or scheduling points from the case that’s slated to final by means of July.

Menendez, of Englewood Cliffs, NJ, took copious notes Wednesday morning as potential jurors informed the decide about their jobs, hobbies and the place they get their information from.

The senator seemed over his shoulder and eyeballed many of the panelists whereas they launched themselves.

Menendez appeared to take specific curiosity in potential jurors who expressed Christian devotion, together with a pastor from Westchester with levels in theology and divinity who reads each Qatar-based outlet Al Jazeera and Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.

He additionally paid shut consideration as one man defined he’s an adjunct professor in theology at St. John’s University who watches the Simpsons and Seinfeld reruns however doesn’t devour a lot political information.

The veteran politician additionally appeared notably engaged when a person mentioned he was a college social employee who reads his Bible, doesn’t watch the information and mentioned, “I give all my time to my church.”

Fred Daibes
Menendez is charged with accepting bribes from Fred Daibes (pictured) and Wael Hana. Gregory P. Mango

It was not instantly clear whether or not these three spiritual males made it onto the ultimate jury panel because the pool was whittled down throughout a lightning-fast course of, the place attorneys from either side used their strikes in quick succession to dismiss individuals they felt wouldn’t be honest and neutral decision-makers.

Jury choice wrapped round 12:30 p.m. Wednesday after 12 jurors and 6 alternates have been chosen.

Manhattan federal Judge Sidney Stein beforehand informed the pool of attainable jurors that they may hear about and even see testimony from a slew of US politicians together with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Bob Menendez and Nadine getting married.
Menendez’ spouse Nadine can also be charged with accepting bribes however her trial was postponed till July for well being causes. Senator Bob Menendez / Instagram
Gold bars seized from the Menendez home.
When the feds raided the Menendezes’ house they discovered bars of gold stashed away. US District Court

This is the second federal corruption and bribery trial that the Garden State senior senator is going through in much less than a decade, after he dodged a conviction at a previous legal trial that ended with a hung jury in 2017.

Menendez — who has been free on $100,000 bail — is being tried alongside co-defendants and New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, whose pursuits the pol allegedly helped advance for wealth and items.

Menendez has denied all the costs and his co-defendants have additionally pleaded not responsible.

The trial of his spouse, Nadine Menendez, was postponed till July on account of well being causes.

A 3rd businessman, Jose Uribe, pleaded responsible and is cooperating with the feds.

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