The New Jersey Senator has been formally charged
Embattled senator Bob Menendez AFP

The trial against embattled Senator Bob Menendez continues, with prosecutors now showing that the lawmaker regularly searched for the value of gold during the period in which he allegedly used his political influence to help a New Jersey businessman in exchange for bribes that included gold bars.

According to CBS News, evidence about the senator's online searches were prominently showed to the jury and compared to text messages he exchanged with Fred Daibes, the businessman in question who is on trial with him.

Menendez made such online searches between April 2019 and May 2022. They included the price of a gran, an ounce and a kilo of gold. A review of his search history showed he had never made such queries since 2008.

Authorities found gold bars worth more than $100,000 and almost half a million dollars in cash during a 2022 search of Menendez's residence, where he lived with his wife Nadine, also charged in the case. The bars' serial numbers showed they had been previously owned by Daibes. Over ten envelopes of cash with thousands of dollars also had his fingerprints.

The senator's lawyers have said the gold bars belonged to his wife, part of a broader strategy aimed at pinning the actions on her and saying she kept him in the dark about gifts accepted while going through financial trouble.

However, prosecutors are seeking to prove otherwise as the trial goes on. The searches, they say, took place while Menendez was using his political influence to help Daibes secure a $95 million investment from a Qatari investment fund in exchange for actions politically favorable to the country.

Prosecutors showed correspondence where Menendez introduced Daibes to a member of the Qatar royal family who was a principal at the investment firm. He also met with officials and made public statements supportive of the country while the deal was being negotiated.

Two weeks ago, another New Jersey businessman, José Uribe, detailed Menendez and his wife a 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 has rejected all the accusations and filed to run for the Senate in early June. He had said he would consider running as an independent if acquitted from the charges. He has filed to run even though that has not been the case so far. Many Democrats have called on him to resign following the accusations, but the senator has refused to do so.

Menendez is set to face New Jersey Democratic Rep. Andy Kim and a Republican. However, a poll from April showed that his decades-long standing in local and national politics might not help him retain his seat, garnering little support from the state's electorate.

The survey, conducted by Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill, showed Menendez with a meager 9 percent support in the general election, compared to 49 percent for the Democratic candidate and 42 percent for the Republican one.

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