Senator Menendez, Charged in Bribery Scheme, May Blame His Wife

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Senator Robert Menendez may blame his wife, Nadine Menendez, for pulling the couple into what prosecutors have said was a criminal conspiracy and may claim that she hid information from him, leading him to believe that “nothing unlawful was taking place,” according to court papers unsealed on Tuesday.

The revelation was contained in two sentences in a legal brief filed by Mr. Menendez’s lawyers, who had asked a judge to keep them secret because they detailed a trial strategy that if made public would “surely garner significant media attention” and “bias the jury pool.”

The new insight into Mr. Menendez’s defense comes just three weeks before he and two New Jersey businessmen are scheduled to go on trial in Manhattan, accused of participating in a wide-ranging bribery scheme. Ms. Menendez is to be tried separately, in July. All four defendants have pleaded not guilty.

The senator and his wife are accused of accepting cash, gold and a luxury car in exchange for Mr. Menendez’s willingness to use his political influence to help allies in New Jersey and to aid the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

According to the newly unsealed sentences, Mr. Menendez may testify at his trial and, if he does, he would disclose communications with Ms. Menendez that would “tend to exonerate” him but may incriminate his wife.

The sentences were unsealed by a judge, Sidney H. Stein of Federal District Court, at the request of a coalition of news organizations.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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