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Wife of Sen. Menendez Has Breast Cancer, He Reveals During Corruption Trial

US Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and his wife Nadine Arslanian, arrive at the US 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 constant 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 is suffering from Grade 3 breast cancer, which will require her to have mastectomy surgery. We are of course, concerned about the seriousness and advanced stage of the disease,” Menendez said.

“She will require follow up surgery and possibly radiation treatment. We hope and pray for the best results,” he said. “We ask the press and the public to give her the time, space and privacy to deal with this challenging health condition as she undergoes surgery and recovery.”

Menendez shared the health information about his wife less than one day after his defense attorney cast blame on her in 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’ worth of gold bars, stacks of cash and an array of other bribes in exchange for political favors.

A judge in April severed Nadine Menendez’s trial from her husband’s, and postponed it at least until 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 in the dark about his wife’s money troubles and “sidelined” from her financial woes, defense attorney Avi Weitzman told the 12-person jury in his opening statement Wednesday afternoon.

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

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

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

He even displayed a graphic showing a page from a “Where’s Waldo?” book — which was altered to read “Where’s Bob?” — to hammer the point home.

Menendez “took no bribes,” Weitzman said, while insisting that his allegedly corrupt conduct 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 a go-between.”

Menendez, 70, was “on the take” 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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