Start of Sen. Bob Menendez’s bribery trial is delayed a week to mid-May

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NEW YORK (AP) — The start of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s bribery trial was pushed back a week to mid-May on Friday after lawyers agreed the extra days would aid trial preparation.

U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein changed from May 6 to May 13 the start of jury selection during a pretrial hearing in Manhattan. Menendez was allowed to participate in the conference by telephone after his lawyers said a late night in the U.S. Senate on Thursday made it impossible for him to attend the Friday morning hearing.

Menendez and two New Jersey businessmen have pleaded not guilty to charges that cash, gold bars and a luxury car were given to Menendez and his wife since 2017 in return for the Democratic senator carrying out political favors.

Menendez’s wife, Nadine, who also has pleaded not guilty, will not go on trial until July, at the earliest, because she faces medical issues.

A third businessman, Jose Uribe, has pleaded guilty to bribery charges and agreed to testify against the others at trial.

The criminal case last fall forced Menendez to give up his powerful role as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Earlier this week, lawyers for Menendez indicated in a court filing that they may seek exoneration at trial by claiming that he lacked criminal intent since his wife didn’t disclose anything illegal to him about her dealings with New Jersey businessmen.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of Sen. Bob Menendez at https://apnews.com/hub/robert-menendez.

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