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Bob Menendez’s legal strategy may include blaming his wife, filing says

Newly unsealed court documents show that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) may seek to blame his wife, Nadine Menendez, for withholding information in a case that led to federal corruption charges.

In passages released Tuesday, the senator’s lawyers wrote in a legal brief that they planned to try to demonstrate “the absence of any improper intent on the part of Senator Menendez” by demonstrating how his wife withheld information from him “or otherwise led him to believe that nothing.” something illegal was happening. »

Menendez’s lawyers had requested that these convictions be kept secret because they believed that publicity about this defense strategy could taint the composition of the jurors. But a judge ordered the passages to be released Tuesday after a coalition of media organizations requested their release.

The senator and his wife will be tried separately, a federal judge ruled last week.

Bob Menendez’s trial is scheduled to begin May 6 in Manhattan federal court, while Nadine Menendez’s trial is expected to begin later this summer.

Lawyers for Nadine Menendez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bob and Nadine Menendez and two associates were initially charged in September in a scheme that officials said involved gold bars, silver bars and efforts to use positions of power of the senator to secretly benefit the Egyptian government.

In March, prosecutors added charges of extortion and obstruction of justice. The latest indictment again alleges that Menendez and his wife accepted bribes – including cash, gold and a luxury car – in exchange for the senator’s use of its influence for the benefit of the Egyptian and Qatari governments.

One of the bribes prosecutors alleged was allegedly for a new Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible for Nadine when she was first dating the senator.

She received the luxury vehicle, prosecutors say, from an associate of a friend of hers — in exchange for Menendez’s alleged efforts to disrupt an ongoing criminal proceeding involving two people close to that associate, who was charged in alongside the couple, in addition to two other New Jersey business executives.

Aaron Schaffer, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Praveena Somasundaram and Anumita Kaur contributed to this report.

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