What you need to know
- U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife are accused of using his foreign affairs influence to help Egypt in return for bribes.
- Investigators say a search of Menendez’s home yielded nearly $500,000 in hidden cash and $100,000 in gold bars.
- This is the second indictment in eight years against Menendez. His unrelated 2015 indictment ended in a mistrial.
- Gov. Phil Murphy and a growling list of Senate Democrats have called for the senior senator’s resignation.
- Here are some key takeaways from the September indictment.
The New York federal judge scheduled to preside over the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez rejected on Thursday a defense request to delay the start of jury selection from May to July.
Judge Sidney H. Stein’s order leaves in place a May 5 trial date in Manhattan for the New Jersey Democrat, who faces trial along with his wife and three New Jersey businessmen.
All have pleaded not guilty to charges alleging they engaged in a bribery conspiracy that enriched the senator and his wife with cash, gold bars and a luxury car. Menendez, his wife and one of the businessmen also have pleaded not guilty to a charge that they conspired to illegally use the senator as an agent of the Egyptian government.
Lawyers for Menendez claimed earlier this month that they need extra time to prepare for trial, in part because they’ve been given over 6.7 million documents that they must sift through and because the complexity of the case requires resolving questions of law that may take extra time to decide.
Prosecutors opposed the request on the grounds that they had warned defense lawyers when the trial date was set in the fall that the evidence they would turn over would be voluminous and that nothing has changed since then.
In his order, Stein agreed with prosecutors, saying that the evidence turned over by prosecutors to defense lawyers was consistent with the amount of material the government had projected would be involved in the trial.
After his September arrest, the senator gave up his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has resisted calls for him to resign from his Senate seat.
Menendez’s lawyers declined in an email to comment on Stein’s order Thursday.