Bob Menendez Corruption Trial: Closing Arguments Drag on for Another Day

Closing arguments continued for the third day in the federal corruption trial of New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez on Wednesday.

Menendez is facing sixteen charges, including bribery, extortion and public official acting as a foreign agent.

Two New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, were tried alongside Menendez. All three pleaded not guilty.

The senator’s wife, Nadine Menendez was supposed to be tried at the same time as well, but her trial was pushed back to next month. Robert Menendez announced that his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in May, the month his trial started.

The trial is in its ninth week. The closing arguments started on Monday.

Closing Arguments Continue In Sen. Menendez Trial
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) arrives at Manhattan Federal Court on July 10, 2024 in New York City. Closing arguments in the case continued on Wednesday.

Michael M. Santiago / Staff/Getty Images

Prosecutors allege the senator used his power and influence to obtain expensive gifts, including cash, gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, furniture and payments on a home mortgage.

The defense argues that Robert Menendez was unaware of his wife’s negotiations with businessmen linked to the scheme.

Defense attorney Adam Fee said prosecutors did not prove their case and are “asking you to ignore things that don’t fit their theory.”

“The gaps you are being asked to fill are not based on evidence. Don’t fall into a trap of buying a story, a forceful, well-told, long, long story,” Fee said. “Resist that.”

Nadine Menendez did not tell her husband that she was having money problems, Fee claimed.

“Bob had no idea Nadine was getting help with her mortgage and car payments. Nadine wanted to get back to a comfortable life. She portrayed her life as rosy, that’s the thing with Instagram,” Fee said.

Bob and Nadine Menendez leave court
Senator Bob Menendez (L), a New Jersey Democrat, seen with his wife Nadine Menendez (R) as they leave U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, in New York City on September 27, 2023. Menendez…

Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

He said the large amounts of cash found in the home came from Nadine Menendez’s sale of family heirlooms and jewelry.

“This case dies here. Bob should be acquitted due to the lack of evidence,” Fee said.

In the prosecution’s closing statement delivered earlier this week, assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni said Robert Menendez’s actions showed a “clear pattern of corruption.”

“It wasn’t enough for him to be one of the most powerful people in Washington,” Monteleoni said in his closing argument. “He also wanted to pile up riches for himself and his wife.”

He also tried to discredit the defense’s claim that the senator did not know about the scheme through several pieces of evidence, including text messages.

“You don’t get to be the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by being clueless,” Monteleoni said.

He finished his closing statement by asking the jury to hold Robert Menendez accountable.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the buck stops here, the thousands and thousands of bucks stop here. It’s time to hold him responsible,” Monteleoni said.

The defense attorney for Hana began delivering his closing argument on Wednesday. The attorney for Daibes will present a closing argument and the prosecution gets a chance for rebuttal before jury deliberations begin.

Menendez was first elected to the senate in 2006. He is running for re-election in November as an independent against Democratic nominee Rep. Andy Kim and Republican nominee and entrepreneur Curtis Bashaw.

Do you have a story Newsweek should be covering? Do you have any questions about this story? Contact