Senator Menendez’s wife asks for separate trial from husband – filing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The wife of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez on Monday sought to sever the government’s corruption case against her from her husband, according to a court document.

In the document, Nadine Menendez’s lawyers said a joint trial will prejudice her right to defend herself at a fair trial. They added that a joint trial would force the married defendants to make a Hobson’s choice “as exercising their right to testify in their own defense may necessitate waiving their privilege against providing testimony adverse to their spouse.”

“Ms. Menendez’s interests in both maintaining the confidentiality of her privileged marital communications and exercising her spousal testimonial privilege without sacrificing her ability to testify in her own defense collectively support a finding of a ‘serious risk’ that a joint trial will compromise her ‘specific trial rights,'” the lawyers said.

The pair pleaded not guilty in October after they were charged with taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen.

In charging the senator last September, prosecutors said investigators had found gold bars and envelopes stuffed with cash inside jackets in the New Jersey Democrat’s apartment.

They also said businessman Wael Hana had arranged meetings between Menendez and Egyptian officials, who pressed the senator to sign off on military aid.

In return, Hana put Menendez’s wife on the payroll of a company he controlled, prosecutors said.

Earlier this month, prosecutors accused Menendez of helping a New Jersey businessman seek an investment from Qatari company with ties to the Middle Eastern country’s government.

The latest allegations, which accused him of acting as a foreign agent, add pressure on the embattled senator, who has resisted calls to resign from members of his own party.

(Reporting by Jasper Ward; Editing by Christopher Cushing)