Bob Menendez' defense may blame wife Nadine Arslanian Menendez in federal bribery charges

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Sen. Bob Menendez could pin his defense strategy on his wife and co-defendant, Nadine Arslanian Menendez — whom he may blame for withholding information from him in the events that led to their federal corruption charges, newly available court records show.

The records, unsealed after a group of media organizations — including and The Record — sued for access, revealed details in a filing made by Menendez's defense attorneys who sought a judge's permission to obscure information they said would “surely garner significant media attention” and “bias the jury pool.”

Menendez faces federal corruption and bribery charges in a trial set to begin at U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan in just weeks.

Senator Bob Menendez is shown as he exits federal court in the Southern District of New York, in lower Manhattan, after pleading not guilty, Monday, October 23, 3023.
Senator Bob Menendez is shown as he exits federal court in the Southern District of New York, in lower Manhattan, after pleading not guilty, Monday, October 23, 3023.

The memo was initially filed as part of an effort by Menendez’s attorneys to argue that his case should be dismissed based on a lack of evidence and duplicity. The filing was submitted on Jan. 15.

While most of the information was available then, the newly unredacted sections show that Menendez wanted the trials separated so that Arslanian Menendez could not assert marital privilege over information that could excuse or absolve Menendez and that “as part of his defense, Senator Menendez may elect to testify to communications with his wife” that would “may inculpate Nadine by demonstrating the ways in which she withheld information from Senator Menendez or otherwise led him to believe that nothing unlawful was taking place.”

The memo specifically notes that this could include information about dinners with Egyptian officials and explanations for monetary items from Hana and Uribe.

The new information also shows that Menendez’s team tried to argue that the bank account opened in the Bronx existed two years before the alleged conspiracy started so it can’t be proof of the conspiracy.

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Menendez charges: What you need to know

Arslanian Menendez, Bob Menendez and two of their initial co-defendants, New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana and North Jersey developer Fred Daibes, face 18 counts brought by federal prosecutors, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice, amid allegations that Bob Menendez was working to benefit Qatar in addition to Egypt.

A third businessman, Jose Uribe, has since changed his not guilty plea to guilty and agreed to cooperate.

Menendez and his wife allegedly received, among other things, cash, gold bars and a luxury car in exchange for the use of his political influence.

Arslanian Menendez is charged in all of the same counts as her husband, except the substantive Section 219 charge, but she is also charged with him in a conspiracy to violate Section 219.

Section 219 refers to a public official acting as a foreign agent.

A separate trial for Arslanian Menendez was tentatively scheduled to begin July 8, a federal judge ruled last week. Arslanian Menendez's attorneys had sought to delay the trial because they said she faced surgery for a serious medical condition.

This article originally appeared on Bob Menendez' wife may be blamed in corruption trial defense