Prosecutors Use Menendez Couple’s Texts to Depict Them as Collaborators

Senator Robert Menendez is accused of bribery and corruption. His lawyers have attempted to shift the blame to his wife, Nadine.

In January 2019, Senator Robert Menendez placed a seven-minute call to New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, in what prosecutors say was an effort to quash an insurance fraud case.

A New Jersey businessman, Jose Uribe, had been desperate to make the fraud charges disappear, prosecutors say. He had turned to Nadine Menendez — who married the senator the next year — for help.

In the hours and days before the senator’s call, there was a flurry of communication between Ms. Menendez, Mr. Uribe and a second businessman who is charged with the senator and his wife in an elaborate bribery scheme. Ms. Menendez would often contact the senator soon after texting with the men, sometimes using an alternate phone that the couple referred to as her “007” phone.

The messages were shared Wednesday with jurors over hours of testimony from an F.B.I. special agent during the fourth week of Mr. Menendez’s bribery trial. The agent was responsible for verifying the accuracy of a chart summarizing more than 1,100 pieces of evidence, including emails, texts and voice mail recordings.

Taken together, the messages appeared to be part of the prosecution’s effort to undercut a central element of Mr. Menendez’s defense: that he and his wife lived largely separate lives, and that he was unaware of her interactions with the men now accused of bribing the couple in exchange for political favors from the senator.

Prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York took pains on Wednesday to instead present the senator and his wife as close collaborators who spoke regularly and were intimately involved in mundane details of each other’s daily lives.

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