Senator Menendez's wife has breast cancer, he reveals during the corruption trial

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and his wife Nadine Arslanian arrive at the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, in New York City on September 27, 2023.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Nadine Menendez, the wife and co-defendant of Sen. Robert Menendez, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the Democratic lawmaker revealed Thursday during his trial on federal corruption charges.

“As a result of continued press inquiries and reporters following my wife, she has asked me to disclose her medical condition,” Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey, said in a statement his office shared with NBC News.

“Nadine suffers from grade 3 breast cancer, which requires mastectomy surgery. We are obviously concerned about the severity and advanced stage of the disease,” Menendez said.

“She will need further surgery and possibly radiation. We hope and pray for the best results,” he said. “We ask the press and public to give her the time, space and privacy to manage this challenging health condition as she undergoes surgery and recovers.”

Menendez shared the health information about his wife less than a day after his lawyer blamed her in the senator's trial in Manhattan federal court.

Menendez and his wife are both charged in the case in connection with a years-long scheme to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold bars, wads of cash and a series of other bribes in exchange for political favors.

A judge in April separated Nadine Menendez's trial from her husband's and postponed it until at least July after her lawyers cited medical problems that were not made public at the time. The trial of Menendez and two New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, began Monday.

Menendez was kept in the dark about his wife's money problems and “sidelined” because of her financial problems, attorney Avi Weitzman told the 12-person jury in his opening statement Wednesday afternoon.

Nadine Menendez “had financial concerns that she hid from Bob,” he said.

The gold bars found in an FBI investigation of Menendez's home — the “elephant in the room” — were found in “Nadine's closet,” Weitzman said.

The attorney advised jurors that every time they heard evidence about Nadine Menendez, they should ask themselves, “What did Bob know?”

He even showed an image with a page from a “Where's Waldo?” book – which was changed to read “Where's Bob?” – to get the point across.

Menendez “didn't take bribes,” Weitzman said, emphasizing that his alleged corrupt behavior was actually just part of his job as a senator.

“Every action Senator Menendez took was to help his constituents,” he said.

Minutes earlier, U.S. Attorney Laura Pomerantz told the jury that Menendez “put his power up for sale” and “used his wife as an intermediary.”

Menendez, 70, was “on the run” and “motivated by greed,” she said in her opening statement.

“This was not politics as usual,” Pomerantz said. “This was politics for profit.”

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