Judge rejects Sen. Bob Menendez’s request to delay his May bribery trial for two months

Prosecutors say they had warned defense lawyers when the trial date was set that the evidence they would turn over would be voluminous and that nothing has changed since then.

Sen. Bob Menendez

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., departs the Senate floor in the Capitol, Sept. 28, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

What you need to know

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.

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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.

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