Nadine Menendez
Nadine and Bob Menendez X

The lawyers of embattled New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez blamed his wife, Nadine, for the gold bars that authorities found at their home and are central to the corruption accusation against him.

During their opening statements, Menendez's lawyers said that their client never took bribes or broke the law, and that he was unaware of any dealings that may have sought to use his influence to benefit the governments of Egypt or Qatar.

Menendez and Nadine face an array of charges alleging they accepted bribes in the form of cash, gold bars and even a luxury car, to help and protect three local businessmen and benefit the governments of Qatar and Egypt. They have also been accused of obstructing the investigation in the case. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors also focused on Nadine, saying that shortly after they began dating in 2018, she and a friend introduced Menendez to Egyptian intelligence and military officials, holding dinners at expensive restaurants and meetings in his office.

"Anytime you need anything you have my number and we will make everything happen," she texted an Egyptian official who was seeking the senator's help of foreign policy matters, the prosecutors added.

The scheme had Nadine and her friend Wael Hana as intermediaries, passing along sensitive information to Egyptian officials in exchange for money and gifts. The information included the amount of people stationed at the U.S. embassy in Cairo and details about military aid to the country.

The senator had already anticipated he could blame his wife, saying he could present communications between them showing "ways in which she withheld information" asking or "otherwise led him to believe that nothing unlawful was taking place."

He asked their trials be held separately and his request was granted. Nadine's trial has been postponed due to a "serious health issue" on her end.

However, prosecutors have also focused on Menendez. Lara Pomerantz, tasked with delivering the government's opening statement, said Menendez "put his power up for sale." "This was not politics as usual. This was politics for profit. This was a United States senator on the take," she said.

Menendez has so far refused to say whether he'll resign if convicted. Speaking to CNN, the official said he is "looking forward to proving my innocence," after asked for clarity on the matter of his political future.

Menendez faced numerous calls to resign but has refused to do so, accepting to step down from committee assignments. Instead, he announced that he won't seek reelection as a Democrat and will do as an independent if cleared of his charges.

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