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Prosecutors in Sen. Bob Menendez’s bribery trial are done presenting their case. The defense is next

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors at the bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez rested on Friday after presenting evidence for seven weeks, enabling the Democrat and two New Jersey businessmen to begin calling their own witnesses to support defense claims that no crimes were committed and no bribes were paid.

On their final day of direct questioning, prosecutors elicited details about the senator’s financial records by questioning an FBI forensic accountant.

Prosecutors say gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash found in a raid of Menendez’s home two years ago were bribes paid by three businessmen from 2018 to 2022 in return for favors that the senator, using his political power, carried out on their behalf.

Defense lawyers claim the gold belonged to his wife and that Menendez had a habit of storing cash at home after his family lost almost everything in Cuba before they moved to New York, where Menendez was born.

“The government hasn’t proven its case,” the senator remarked as he left the courthouse Friday afternoon.

Menendez, 70, is on trial with two of the businessmen after a third pleaded guilty in a cooperation deal with the government and testified at the trial. Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, is also charged in the case, which was unveiled last fall. Her trial has been postponed while she recovers from breast cancer surgery. All defendants have pleaded not guilty.

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