Sen. Bob Menendez’s federal corruption trial is underway. Here’s what to know about the case involving gold bars, a jacket lined with cash and a Mercedes.

While former President Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial continues in Manhattan criminal court, a criminal trial involving another elected U.S. official is happening just a few blocks away in Manhattan federal court.

Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, is facing bribery and corruption charges for allegedly using his influence on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee to help the governments of Egypt and Qatar and to provide political favors to three New Jersey businessmen running a halal meat company, who in turn showered him and his wife with gifts.

According to federal prosecutors, those gifts included gold bars, cash and a Mercedes-Benz. Opening arguments in the trial got underway Wednesday, with testimony expected to begin later this week.

Menendez has pleaded not guilty.

Menendez talks during a Senate finance hearing on Capitol Hill.

Menendez at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in March. (Mariam Zuhaib/AP)

Menendez, 70, is a three-term senator who lives in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. He served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2013 to 2015 and from 2021 to 2023, when he was indicted on federal bribery and corruption charges.

Wael Hana arrives at Manhattan federal court for his bribery trial.Wael Hana arrives at Manhattan federal court for his bribery trial.

Wael Hana, one of Menendez’s co-defendants, arrives at Manhattan federal court on Wednesday. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Menendez was indicted on more than a dozen criminal charges, including bribery, obstruction of justice and acting as a foreign agent. He is standing trial with two of the businessmen — Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, who have ties to Egypt and Qatar. The third, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty and has been cooperating with federal prosecutors. Menendez’s wife, Nadine, was also charged but will stand trial separately. If convicted on all counts, Menendez faces a maximum sentence of 222 years in prison.

Menendez and wife Nadine arrive at the federal courthouse in New York.Menendez and wife Nadine arrive at the federal courthouse in New York.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine, arrive at Manhattan federal court in September. (Jeenah Moon/AP)

According to the federal indictment, Menendez and his wife were the recipients of numerous lavish gifts, including:

  • Gold bars
    Prosecutors say Hana and Daibes gave Menendez and his wife gold bars, which were seized by the FBI from their home. After returning from a trip to Egypt, prosecutors say, Menendez searched online for the price of a gold bar.

  • Envelopes full of cash
    Menendez and his wife received over $480,000 in cash, which was found in their home stuffed into bags, boots and clothes, including the senator’s embroidered congressional jacket.

  • A Mercedes-Benz convertible
    The 2019 Mercedes, valued at $60,000, was bought for Nadine Menendez by Uribe, according to prosecutors. It was parked in the couple’s driveway when FBI agents raided their home.

  • An engagement ring
    In the indictment, prosecutors say Hana received $150,000 from an unidentified man to purchase the car and an engagement ring for Nadine Menendez in exchange for the senator giving a “push” in a New Jersey criminal case.

  • Basement carpeting and furniture
    Prosecutors say Nadine Menendez arranged for carpeting to be installed in her basement in exchange for dinners she set up between the senator and officials, as well as unspecified furniture.

  • Formula One tickets
    According to prosecutors, Menendez received tickets from Qatari officials to the Miami Grand Prix Formula One race. Menendez gave the tickets to relatives.

Menendez walks down a hallway in the court building.Menendez walks down a hallway in the court building.

Menendez at Manhattan federal court on March 11. (Jeenah Moon/AP)

The trial is expected to last until early July. Menendez, whose current term is up in January, has until June to decide whether to seek reelection.

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