Sen. Bob Menendez, a three-term New Jersey Democrat, began his federal bribery trial on Monday in New York City, in the same Manhattan courthouse where former President Donald Trump stands trial.

Charged with counts of bribery, extortion, obstruction of justice and acting as a foreign agent, Menendez stands at the center of an international bribery scheme involving more than $100,000 in gold bullion and an Egyptian halal meat monopoly.

Menendez is being tried alongside two other New Jersey businessmen, Fred Daibes and Wael Hana, who allegedly traded bribes to Menendez for his “influence and power” in various business and political endeavors.

Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, is also being charged in the bribery scheme but will be tried separately due to a “serious medical condition” that requires a surgical procedure within the coming weeks.

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All four defendants have pleaded not guilty, and Menendez announced his hope to run for re-election in November as an independent.

“I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election,” Menendez said in March.

In addition to the four defendants, a third New Jersey businessman, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty in March to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion. Urbine has agreed to testify truthfully as part of his plea deal if called to trial.

In September, federal prosecutors accused Menendez and his wife of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes in cash, gold, mortgage payments, a Mercedes-Benz convertible and other luxurious gifts. The bribes benefited all three businessmen and Egyptian government officials.

When prosecutors searched the Menendezes’ home in June 2022, they found more than $480,000 in cash stashed in envelopes or hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe, as well as more than $100,00 worth of gold bars.

Urbine has admitted giving Menendez a $60,000 Mercedes-Benz convertible “in return for influencing a United States senator to stop a criminal investigation.”

After his implications in an insurance fraud investigation that involved two of his associates, Menendez agreed to help Urbine in exchange for monthly payments in the form of the Mercedes car.

The indictment similarly describes how the Menendezes took bribes from Daibes, a real estate developer and longtime friend of the senator. After being charged with obtaining loans under false pretenses in 2018, Daibes paid Menendez in gold bars to help him get the charges dropped.

Prosecutors additionally highlight Menendez’s role in pressuring a high-level official at the Department of Agriculture to help support New Jersey businessman and Egyptian emigrant Hana’s halal meat company monopoly.

The indictment also states that prosecutors plan to discuss Menendez’s disclosure of private State Department information to Egyptian government officials, which posed “significant operational security concerns.”

Menendez’s attorneys said that a large part of his defense would rely on blaming his wife, outlining “the ways in which she withheld information” and “led him to believe that nothing unlawful was taking place,” said the court papers.

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