Jury picked, opening statements begin in US v. Menendez: 'Use your good judgment'


A dozen jurors and six alternatives were chosen Wednesday and began hearing opening statements in the high-profile federal corruption trial of New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez. Opening statements are expected to take up to three hours total, and prosecutor Lara Pomerantz was allotted 45 minutes. 

U.S. Judge Sidney H. Stein told the jurors, “use your common sense, use your life experience, use your good judgment.” 

Jurors will determine whether evidence against Menendez and two New Jersey businessmen, Fred Daibes and Wael Hana, shows a bribery scheme that allegedly involved meddling in criminal investigations and taking actions to benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar. 

US V. MENENDEZ: DEM SENATOR’S CORRUPTION TRIAL KICKS OFF WITH SURPRISING DELAY

Menendez and wife leave federal court in Manhattan

Senator Bob Menendez and his wife Nadine Menendez depart a Manhattan court after they were arraigned on federal bribery charges in New York, United States on September 27, 2023. (Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Menendez “put his power up for sale,” while aiding the Egyptian government and trying to brush criminal cases under the rug in exchange for 22 gold bars, jewelry, cash and a Mercedes-Benz convertible, according to the prosecutor’s opening statements, the New York Times reported.

Menendez’s defense attorney, Avi Weitzman, will have about an hour, while Hana and Daibes’ attorneys are expected to each speak for about 30 minutes during opening arguments. 

In his opening statements, Weitzman described Menendez as “an American patriot,” waving away the claim that he’s a “foreign agent,” like the prosecution alleges, according to The Times.

All three alleged conspirators have pleaded not guilty, but co-defendant Jose Uribe has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the other defendants. A trial for the senator’s wife, Nadine, who is also charged and has also pleaded not guilty, is delayed until at least July for health reasons. 

This is the second time in a decade that Menendez has been accused in a federal corruption case. 

TRUMP VP CONTENDERS, SITTING SENATORS HEADLINE MENENDEZ TRIAL POTENTIAL WITNESS LIST

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Wael Hana, center, leaves the federal courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. Hana is a co-defendant with Robert Menendez.

On Tuesday, the judge told potential jurors that several sitting U.S. senators — including a couple rumored to be in consideration for the GOP vice presidential nod — are among a lengthy list of prominent individuals who could be called as witnesses.

The list included: David Axelrod, former political strategist for former President Barack Obama; Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware; Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y.; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; former Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; former Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin; former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Sen. Kristen Sinema, I-Ariz.; and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland. 

BOB MENENDEZ’S CORRUPTION CASE CO-DEFENDANT PLEADS GUILTY TO 7 COUNTS, COOPERATING WITH INVESTIGATORS

Menendez walks into court

Sen. Bob Menendez walks into the Manhattan Federal courthouse on March 11, 2024.  (Fox News)

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Fox News’ Jennifer Johnson contributed to this report. 



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