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  /  News   /  Jury deliberations in Menendez bribery trial could start Thursday

Jury deliberations in Menendez bribery trial could start Thursday

NEW YORK (NewsNation) — The fate of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez will likely be in the hands of the jury Thursday as his bribery trial comes to a close after nine weeks.

The prosecution and defense each spent hours summarizing and laying out their cases during closing arguments earlier this week. While 37 witnesses took the stand, Menendez did not testify in his own defense.

Now, Menendez’s fate will likely be in the hands of the jury.

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Why is Sen. Bob Menendez on trial?

Menendez and his wife, Nadine, are accused of accepting bribes such as cash and gold bars from wealthy New Jersey businessmen and performing favors in return. These favors allegedly include meddling in criminal investigations and taking actions that benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar. 

The weekslong trial is taking place in a Manhattan federal court. This trial marks the second time Menendez has faced federal corruption charges in a decade. 

Menendez pleaded not guilty to 16 felony charges that he accepted bribes from three New Jersey businessmen including gold and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from 2018 to 2022. 

He’s on trial with two of the businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, who have also pleaded not guilty. A third businessman pleaded guilty and testified at the trial.

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Closing statements

The prosecution and defense both delivered closing arguments Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of jury deliberations. Menendez’s defense attorney spent a total of five hours over two days, telling the jury the prosecution’s case is thin and has failed to connect evidence of bribery or corruption to the senator directly.

The prosecution also took five hours during its closing arguments, contending the defense’s explanation doesn’t add up, saying federal authorities seized almost $500,000 in cash and more than $100,000 worth of gold bars.

The jury also heard closing arguments from the first businessman’s defense team being tried alongside Menendez. On Thursday, the jury will hear from the second businessman’s defense, which is expected to take about an hour.

Prosecutors will have a chance for rebuttal, and then, the judge with read jury instruction before jurors head to deliberation.