Judge Blocks Key Evidence in Bob Menendez Trial

(UnitedHeadlines.com) – On May 24, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein ruled prosecutors cannot show the jury evidence they say is crucial in their case against New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.

Prosecutors sought to show text messages that they allege show Menendez, who was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “engaged in a corrupt relationship” with the three New Jersey businessmen. Menendez was indicted in September on charges of bribery, which allegedly included gold bars, mortgage payments, and cash in exchange for Menendez’s influence “to benefit the Arab Republic of Egypt.”

According to prosecutors, the 2019 text messages allegedly showed Menendez assuring the businessmen and Egypt that there would not be a delay in military aid to Egypt, which had heard Menendez was holding the aid. A 2022 text message from Nadine Menendez, the senator’s wife, to one of the businessmen included a link about two pending foreign military sales to Egypt along with the words, “Bob had to sign off on this.”

Prosecutor Paul Monteleoni argued the text messages show that Egypt was “frantic about not getting their money’s worth.” Monteleoni argued the text messages were “critical evidence” in the case against the senator.

However, Stein ruled against prosecutors, stating that the evidence was protected by the “speech or debate” clause in the Constitution, which protects lawmakers from prosecution for official legislative acts, ruling that “the hold or releasing the hold” is a protected legislative act.

Menendez’s trial began in New York on May 15 and could continue until early July. The prosecution has already called witnesses such as the FBI agent who was in charge of the 2022 search of the senator’s New Jersey home and a lawyer who testified that while he worked for the Halal company, a $23,568.54 payment was made to a lender of the senator’s wife to save their home from foreclosure.

The trial start date for the senator’s wife, also charged in the indictment, has been delayed as she undergoes medical treatment and surgery after her diagnosis of breast cancer.

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