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Menendez’s legal strategy may include blaming his wife, unsealed document 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 bribery charges.

In passages unsealed Tuesday, the senator’s lawyers wrote in a legal brief that they plan to try to show the “absence of any improper intent on Senator Menendez’s part” by demonstrating how his wife withheld information from him “or otherwise led him to believe that nothing unlawful was taking place.”

Menendez’s lawyers had asked to keep those sentences under seal because they believed publicizing that defense strategy could taint the jury pool. But a judge ordered the passages to be released Tuesday after a coalition of media organizations sought their disclosure.

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 as well as two associates were initially charged in September, in a scheme that officials say involved gold bars, stacks of cash and efforts to use the senator’s powerful position to secretly benefit the Egyptian government.

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

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

She received the luxury vehicle, according to prosecutors, from a business associate of one of her friends — in exchange for Menendez’s alleged efforts to disrupt ongoing criminal proceedings implicating two people close to that associate, who was charged alongside the couple, in addition to two other business executives in New Jersey.

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

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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