Jury selection begins in second federal corruption trial for Sen. Bob Menendez

By Chris Benson
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., looks on as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a Senate Finance committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol in March.Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 3 | Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., looks on as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a Senate Finance committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol in March.Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

May 13 (UPI) -- Jury selection got underway Monday in New York for the federal corruption trial of New Jersey's embattled Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez.

The trial is expected to last two months. It will be in Manhattan unlike his previous corruption charges which were in New Jersey.


A judge in March had refused to dismiss the charges against Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, who were indicted in September on three bribery charges with the senator receiving an additional charge of conspiracy for a public official to act as a foreign agent the following month.

Menendez, 70, was charged with acting as a foreign agent for the Middle Eastern countries of Egypt and Qatar while in his past role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he faces 16 criminal counts.

Menendez and his wife had been accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes in the form of cash, gold bullions and mortgage payments, among other methods, from three New Jersey businessmen between 2018 and 2023.


Menendez and his wife will face separate trials. The couple had pleaded not guilty in March.

He is the 13th sitting senator in American history to be indicted while holding office and the fourth to be indicted multiple times while serving.

In April, Nadine Melendez had asked the court to delay the start of her bribery and obstruction trial due to a medical condition.

Menendez -- now with his second round with bribery charges in 10 years -- has refused calls by senate colleagues, including fellow Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to resign entirely from the senate despite a mixed bag of taunts, silence or other opinions from members of his own political party and others.

"One of the more difficult times I've had as a United States senator was to call for a man to resign even though I believe everyone has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty," Booker said Thursday.

"I don't want to really go there," Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., recently said.

While Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said "I have no comment on that at all," Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., had said "it wasn't even on my mind until you brought it up."


But Nebraska Sen. Pete Ricketts, a Republican who sits with Menendez on the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, was kinder and said he "always found Sen. Menendez had very good questions on Foreign Relations."

In March and amid the bribery charges, Menendez -- who has held his senate seat since 2006 -- said after much speculation that he would not run in the Democratic primary for re-election in a campaign which focused mostly on the two other Democrats in the race running to replace him, the state's first lady Tammy Murphy and U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, the eventual winner after Murphy's withdrawl.

However, Menendez did leave open the possibility of an independent run to keep his seat.

Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, also a Democrat and the first senator to call on Menendez to resign, has arguably been the most vocal senator calling for Menendez to step down.

"He gets his day," Fetterman said. "People are going to get to decide whether or not he's a sleazeball, or if he is a really, really big sleazeball."

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