Closing statements in the senator's trial

The defense team for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez has told jurors the corruption case against him is “rotten to the core” as they wrapped up their arguments in the high-profile trial.

Menendez, 70, has pleaded not guilty to a five-year scheme in which gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash were accepted in exchange for political favors and aid to the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Prosecutors told the jury in their summing up on Monday that Mr. Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, had sold his power for cash and gold.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Thursday after an eight-week trial.

“The United States wins when flimsy cases brought by overzealous prosecutors are dismissed,” Menendez's attorney, Adam Fee, told the Manhattan district court on Wednesday.

He argued that the gifts his client accepted could not be classified as bribes because prosecutors could not prove that he took specific actions as a result.

The senator was simply “doing his job, and he did it well,” Mr. Fee said.

In an interview with reporters outside the court, Mr. Menendez said: “We have debunked the government's false narratives and exposed their lies.”

If found guilty on all charges, he faces decades in prison and possible expulsion from the Democratic Party.

During the trial, prosecutors relied on expert testimony, emails and text messages from Mr. Menendez to show that the senator accepted lavish rewards from foreign governments.

They said the gifts consisted of gold bars worth more than $100,000 (£79,000).

Mr. Menendez is being tried alongside two businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, who prosecutors say contacted the senator to illegally support the Egyptian government and secure millions of dollars from a Qatari investment fund.

The two have pleaded not guilty, while a third businessman, Jose Uribe, has pleaded guilty and testified against Mr. Menendez at trial.

Mr. Menendez's wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, is also charged in the bribery case but will appear in court later after a judge granted her a stay of trial to receive treatment for breast cancer. She has also pleaded not guilty.

During the prosecution's own arguments, which ended Tuesday, federal prosecutor Paul Monteleoni told jurors: “This is a big case, but it all comes down to a classic case of corruption on a grand scale.

“You don't become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by not having a clue,” he added.

Last year, Mr Menendez was forced to resign as chairman of the influential Senate committee after allegations of corruption were brought against him.

The senator has previously been charged with federal corruption. He was tried in 2017, with the Justice Department alleging he provided political favors to a wealthy Florida ophthalmologist in exchange for lavish vacations and other extravagant gifts.

But that case ended in a mistrial after he was acquitted on several charges and jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict.

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