Sen. Bob Menendez’s Corruption Trial Starts

The corruption trial of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez began in a Manhattan federal court on Monday and is expected to last up to seven weeks.

Menendez, who is on trial for accepting bribes in exchange for using his influence to benefit three New Jersey businessmen, sat at the defense table as Judge Sidney Stein outlined the facts of the case to more than 150 potential jurors.

After warning the prospective jurors that the trial would likely last about seven weeks, the judge asked them to raise their hands if they did not think they could commit to that length of time.

Judge Stein also alerted the potential jurors of the prominent witnesses that may appear during the trial, including several US senators, former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and the former Attorney General of New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal.

Jury selection was completed on Tuesday morning, after which the judge heard arguments on several motions on what evidence could be presented to the jury.

Among the evidence Judge Stein excluded was testimony from a psychiatrist called by the defense who was expected to argue that Menendez stored cash around his home due to a “fear of scarcity” brought on by his family’s experience during the Communist revolution in Cuba when their life savings were confiscated by the rebels.

The judge also scheduled opening statements for Wednesday.

The 70-year-old Menendez is on trial with real estate developer Fred Daibes and businessman Wael Hana.

Prosecutors accuse Menendez of accepting cash and gold bars from the businessmen in exchange for a variety of favors, including taking actions in the Senate that benefitted the Egyptian and Qatari governments and meddling in criminal investigations.

A third businessman was also charged in the case but pleaded guilty in exchange for his testimony in the trial.

Menendez’s wife Nadine is also charged but will be tried separately later this summer.

All three defendants, along with Nadine Menendez, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.