For the first time since the “Abscam” scandal 36 years ago, a sitting U.S. senator will go on trial for bribery on Wednesday in a federal courthouse, Reuters reports.
Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, is accused of intervening with federal officials on behalf of a wealthy benefactor in exchange for lavish gifts, including luxury vacations and major political contributions.
Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday in Newark, New Jersey, and the trial is expected to last up to two months.
Menendez, 63, who has served in the Senate since 2006, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He is running for reelection in 2018 despite the 12-count corruption indictment.
The case centers on the relationship between Menendez and his co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who gave him private flights, expensive vacations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to his campaigns.
Prosecutors say those gifts were actually bribes to persuade Menendez to press Melgen’s interests in Washington.