5 Takeaways From the First Week of Robert Menendez’s Corruption Trial

Senator Robert Menendez’s bribery trial got underway this week in a Manhattan courtroom eight months after he was first indicted on corruption charges. Jurors received a photographic tour of the New Jersey senator’s home, touched the gold bars at the heart of the case and heard a lawyer for Mr. Menendez pin much of the blame on the senator’s wife.

The government has brought a complicated set of accusations against Mr. Menendez, 70. He is charged with accepting cash, gold and other gifts in exchange for doing favors for the governments of Egypt and Qatar and for several allies in New Jersey.

But this week, prosecutors started simply. “This case is about a public official who put greed first,” said Lara Pomerantz, an assistant U.S. attorney. “A public official who put his own interests above his duty to the people. Who put his power up for sale.”

Two businessmen, Fred Daibes and Wael Hana, are on trial with Mr. Menendez, accused of plying him with bribes. The senator’s wife, Nadine Menendez, is also charged; her trial has been delayed.All four have pleaded not guilty.

Here are five takeaways from Mr. Menendez’s first week of trial:

Jurors get to hold one kilogram of gold.

The government’s first witness, Aristotelis Kougemitros, an F.B.I. special agent, took the stand on Thursday to testify about the gold, jewelry and cash seized during a June 2022 search of the Menendezes’ home in New Jersey, giving jurors their first look — and feel — at what prosecutors have called some of the “fruits” of the bribery scheme, including several gold bars.

But Mr. Menendez’s lawyers seemed to score a point when they got Agent Kougemitros to admit that part of his testimony was inaccurate. During a cross-examination of the agent, one of Mr. Menendez’s lawyers, Adam Fee, attempted to show that gold had not been recovered from rooms clearly utilized by the senator, echoing what is emerging as a defense strategy to pin blame on Ms. Menendez.

Who Are Key Players in the Menendez Case?

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and his wife, Nadine Menendez, are accused of taking part in a wide-ranging, international bribery scheme that lasted five years. Take a closer look at central figures related to the case.

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