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Bob Menendez’s Possible Legal Defense: My Wife Did It!

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Senator Menendez Arraigned On Further Charges In New York City

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Newly unsealed court documents reveal that at his upcoming federal bribery trial, Senator Bob Menendez may blame his wife, Nadine Menendez, for getting him into trouble.

In a motion first filed in January, Menendez’s lawyers argued in favor of severing the couple’s trial because the New Jersey senator might testify about personal communications between him and his wife. The brief was initially sealed; Menendez’s legal team asked the judge to redact the specific lines on the strategy, claiming that the information could “bias the jury pool,” according to the New York Times. The court papers were unsealed Tuesday under pressure from a group of news organizations.

“While these explanations, and the marital communications on which they rely, will tend to exonerate Senator Menendez by demonstrating the absence of any improper intent on Senator Menendez’s part, they may inculpate Nadine by demonstrating the ways in which she withheld information from Senator Menendez or otherwise led him to believe that nothing unlawful was taking place,” the filing reads, per ABC News.

Last September, federal prosecutors indicted Menendez, his wife, and a trio of New Jersey businessmen, alleging that the senator used his position to act as a foreign agent to benefit the Egyptian government in exchange for cash, gold bars, and even a Mercedes-Benz convertible for Nadine. Subsequent superseding indictments claimed Menendez sought to aid the Qatari government as well. Menendez, his wife, and two businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, have entered “not guilty” pleas. The other businessman, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Menendez, a three-term senator, has long denied the charges against him and has resisted calls for his resignation. Though he has said he won’t seek reelection as a Democrat, he has floated the idea of an independent bid.

The couple was initially charged together, but a judge ruled last week that the Menendezes will undergo separate trials because Nadine requires surgery for an unnamed medical condition. The senator’s trial is set to begin on May 6, while hers is scheduled for July 8. Perhaps that’s for the best, because judging by these initial hints at the senator’s legal strategy, any encounter between the two of them will be pretty tense.

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