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Bob Menendez lawyer tells jurors there is no direct evidence linking senator to bribes

Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) defense attorney tried to rip a hole in the government’s case against the senator, telling jurors there was no direct evidence tying him to allegations of bribery and corruption. 

Adam Fee, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the same office that is prosecuting Menendez, said during closing arguments on Tuesday that the government is “asking you to ignore things that don’t fit their theory.”

FILE – Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), left, stands at his arraignment in front of Judge Sidney Stein, far right, with his defense attorney Adam Fee, center, in Manhattan federal court, March 11, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

“The government has not proven a single count,” Fee said. “You heard a story. They have a story.” 

Fee asked the jury if they could trust the government’s case based on the evidence provided.

Prosecutors have charged Menendez, once the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of selling the power of his office in “a classic case of corruption on a massive scale.”

He is also accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars, luxury convertible, furniture, and 13 gold bars in exchange for steering aid to Egypt, facilitating a halal meat monopoly, and disrupting criminal investigations on behalf of his friends and family.

If convicted of all the charges against him, he could spend 20 years in prison. 

Menendez has been on trial for the past eight weeks.

His co-defendants are Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer charged with bribing Menendez and his wife, Nadine, with gold bars and cash; and Wael Hana, a New Jersey man who owns a halal meat certification company. 

During his closing, Fee brought up the subject of the gold bars, telling jurors Menendez knew nothing about them until his wife disclosed them. 

“There is no evidence that Bob touched that gold, picked up that gold,” Fee said. 

Prosecutors had pointed to internet searches Menendez made about the price of gold to suggest he knew about the gold bars. Fee countered that all the search history showed is that he looked up the price after he learned Nadine Menendez was going to sell her personal gold to make payments on her home.

“This is Nadine telling her husband in black and white, ‘I’ve got the gold, I’m selling the gold, I’m going to pay off my mortgage,’” Fee said. 

Nadine Menendez and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), arrive at Manhattan federal court, Monday, March 11, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

Prosecutors spent three hours Tuesday and two on Monday wrapping up their closing arguments against the senator. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni walked jurors through 18 charges in exhaustive detail, going over videos, phone messages, dozens of text messages, photos, and witness testimony. 

In the end, he told jurors not to “lose sight of the forest for the trees.”

“It all boils down to a classic case of corruption on a massive scale,” Monteleoni said. 

He also brought up testimony from the government’s star witness, Jose Uribe, a New Jersey businessman who pleaded guilty to bribing Bob Menendez. 

Urbie told jurors he bought Nadine Menendez a Mercedes-Benz convertible and that in turn, she set up a meeting between the two so Uribe could get the senator’s help in killing a criminal investigation into the business of a family friend and his son. 

“You know I saved your ass twice,” Uribe testified that he told Bob Menendez over dinner. “Not one but twice.”

Prosecutors also presented evidence that showed Bob Menendez helped pals Daibes and Hana with business deals.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Daibes and Hana are on trial with Bob Menendez. All have pleaded not guilty. 

Nadine Menendez was arrested and charged as well. Her trial has been delayed as she recovers from breast cancer. 

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