Sen. Bob Menendez’s defense rests without him taking the stand at his corruption trial

Sen. Bob Menendez’s defense team rested its case Wednesday without calling the New Jersey Democrat to the stand in his federal corruption trial.

Menendez’s lawyers called five witnesses over two days of testimony, including his sister, sister-in-law and the attorney for a friend of Jose Uribe, the New Jersey businessman who allegedly bribed the senator in exchange for legal favors and pleaded guilty before the trial began.

The legal team for co-defendant Fred Daibes also rested Wednesday without presenting a defense.

Lawyers for Menendez’s other co-defendant, Wael Hana, called a witness Wednesday and indicated that their next and last witness will be called Monday – if that witness is able to fly in – when the trial resumes after the July 4 holiday. Federal prosecutors said they will decide in the next days if they are presenting a rebuttal case.

Closing arguments are also expected to begin Monday.

The prosecution rested its case Friday after seven weeks of testimony from at least 30 witnesses. Over that time period, federal prosecutors attempted to untangle the multiple corruption schemes that they say resulted in the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, garnishing gold bars, nearly half a million dollars in cash, a Mercedes-Benz and thousands of dollars in mortgage payments. Nadine Menendez is also charged with participating in the bribery scheme but will be tried separately later this summer. She has pleaded not guilty.

On Monday, the senator’s sister, Caridad Gonzalez, testified that her family’s cash storing practices were “normal” – FBI agents recovered nearly half a million dollars in cash from Bob and Nadine Menendez’s residence during a raid in June 2022. Defense attorneys have argued that the senator stored the cash at his home because of familial trauma caused by the Cuban communist regime. (Menendez was born in New York City, and Fidel Castro had not yet come to power at the time the Menendez family left Cuba.)

“It’s a Cuban thing,” Gonzalez, 80, said on the stand. “Every Cuban who came to the States in the early 50s, 60s, 70s” stored cash in their home and in boxes because “they were afraid of losing what they worked so hard for because in Cuba they took everything away from you.”

Gonzalez also said she didn’t know if her brother had stored any money in his home.

Lawyers for the senator also called his wife’s sister, Katia Tabourian, to testify about her Lebanese family and their practices of commonly gifting gold and keeping jewelry, gold coins, gold bars and cash. Prosecutors have alleged throughout the case that Nadine Menendez accepted cash, gold bars and other bribes such as an exercise machine, in exchange for offering her husband’s power and influence to the co-conspirators.

Tabourian testified that her sister got their grandmother’s gold bars as a gift because she was the favorite out of five grandchildren. Tabourian said that it was very common to have gold coins and bars at home, noting that “everybody had a safe” in Lebanon.

A forensic accountant, Russell Richardson, testified for the defense about his review of Menendez’s financial records to show that the senator had a general pattern of withdrawing cash.

Richardson conceded under cross-examination, however, that were Menendez given cash, it wouldn’t show up on a bank statement unless he deposited it.

Michael Critchley, the attorney for Elvis Parra, a friend of Uribe’s, testified that Menendez called him in March 2019 and that they had a roughly two-minute conversation about Parra’s case.

“I got the impression, the understanding, that he felt the same way that I did about the prosecution of Elvis Parra, that it was an abuse of prosecution,” Critchley said. He said he didn’t recall Menendez asking him to take any specific action, and he did not believe anything to be improper.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at