Menendez bribery case one step closer to jury deliberations

Closing arguments continue at Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial

Closing arguments continue at Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial 02:35

Washington — A lawyer for Sen. Bob Menendez finished his hours-long closing argument on Wednesday afternoon, saying “the U.S. wins” if the jury acquits the New Jersey Democrat of the 16 felony charges that stem from an alleged bribery scheme. 

Adam Fee, Menendez’s lawyer, argued over two days that the prosecution has failed to directly connect evidence of bribery or corruption to the senator. 

“He did not take one single action due to any sort of a bribe, and you haven’t seen evidence — reliable evidence — of that,” Fee said Tuesday. 

But the prosecution said in its summation that there was a “clear pattern of corruption,” portraying Menendez as pulling the strings behind the alleged operation that spanned four years. Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, are accused of using his political influence to benefit two foreign governments, while helping three New Jersey businessmen in return for bribes that included stacks of cash, gold bars, mortgage payments and a Mercedes-Benz convertible

Both have pleaded not guilty. Nadine Menendez’s trial was postponed until later this summer as she undergoes treatment for breast cancer. 

Menendez is being tried alongside two businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, who have also pleaded not guilty. 

Fee said there’s nothing criminal about Menendez’s actions. The senator calling prosecutors to discuss criminal cases involving his constituents and his actions toward Egypt, including secretly ghostwriting a letter for Egypt that lobbied his Senate colleagues to release military aid were all part of his job. 

“His actions were lawful, normal, and good for his constituents and this country,” Fee said. 

Since mid-May, jurors have heard from more than three dozen witnesses and have seen a mountain of evidence, including text messages, emails, financial records, call logs and photos. They’ve learned about the inner workings of the federal government through testimony from former administration officials, Senate staffers and FBI agents. They’ve also held some of the gold bars found during a search of the senator’s home in their own hands. 

Before deliberations begin, jurors will hear closing arguments from lawyers for Hana and Daibes and the prosecution’s rebuttal. 

Ash Kalmar contributed reporting. 

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