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Sen. Menendez’s wife suffers from breast cancer, he reveals in corruption trial

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and his wife Nadine Arslanian arrive at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in New York, 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 federal corruption trial.

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

“Nadine has grade 3 breast cancer, which will require a mastectomy. We are of course concerned about the severity and advanced stage of the disease,” Menendez said.

“She will need follow-up 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 deal with this difficult medical condition while she undergoes surgery and recovers.”

Menendez shared his wife’s health information less than a day after his defense attorney blamed her during the senator’s trial in Manhattan federal court.

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

In April, a judge separated Nadine Menendez’s trial from her husband’s and postponed it until at least July, after her lawyers cited medical issues that were not disclosed at the time. The trial of Menendez and two New Jersey businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, began Monday.

Menendez was kept informed of his wife’s financial problems and “sidelined” from her financial difficulties, defense attorney Avi Weitzman told the 12-person jury in his opening statement Wednesday after noon.

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

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

The attorney advised jurors that whenever they hear testimony about Nadine Menendez, they should ask themselves, “What did Bob know?”

He even posted a graphic showing a page of a “Where’s Waldo?” book – which was edited to read “Where’s Bob?” – to drive the point home.

Menendez “did not accept any bribes,” Weitzman said, while insisting that his allegedly corrupt conduct was really 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 a middleman.”

Menendez, 70, was “at the mercy” and “driven by greed,” she said in her opening speech.

“It wasn’t politics as usual,” Pomerantz said. “It was politics for profit.”


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