Senator Bob Menendez
Senator Bob Menendez Reuters

Embattled New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez was on the receiving end of a new damning testimony, after a local businessman detailed to a jury how he gave Menendez's wife Nadine a Mercedes-Benz car as a bribe in exchange for taking advantage of his political influence.

José Uribe, who reached a plea deal with authorities in exchange for leniency in March, took the stand in the ongoing trial against the senator. He said he conspired with another businessman, Wael Hana, and that Nadine Menendez took the bribe.

Prosecutors have alleged that Uribe sought the senator's help to be rid of a criminal probe from the New Jersey attorney general's office into his associates. They said that Menendez indeed called then-Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to discuss the matter.

Grewal also testified in the case this week, confirming Menendez's approach and saying his actions were "pretty unprecedented in my experience." The official now leads enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Menendez stands accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help three New Jersey businessmen and to benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar. Asides from Uribe, the other two businessmen targeted by the trial have pleaded not guilty and are facing trial along with the senator. His wife Nadine's trial has been postponed due to her having advanced breast cancer.

The FBI has released photos showing different assets Menendez and his wife stashed in their house and are central in the allegations. Cash stuffed into boots and in jackets with his name embroidered and over a dozen gold bars stood out among the more than 100 pictures published. The agency said there was close to half a million dollars in the house.

One of the most salient photos show $4,300 in cash that prosecutors said were found inside the senator's Congressional Hispanic Caucus jacket. Many of the places where cash was found, either envelopes or clothing, had Menendez's name on them. That could help the prosecutor's case, as the senator has said he was unaware of any illegal actions and pinned most of the blame on his wife.

Prosecutors also included several photos of gold bars. Two of them, prosecutors said, weighed one kilogram each, the others weighing an ounce each. Menendez's lawyer Avi Weitzman said the senator didn't know his wife had gold bars and that he didn't have access to the closet in which they were kept. He shouldn't be blamed for the actions of the person he was living with, he said.

"Next week the truth will come out," Menendez said as he exited the court on Friday. This week he also filed the paperwork to run as an independent in the state's next senatorial elections.

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