Nadine Arslanian was getting desperate. For more than a year, she’d been arranging meetings and dinners between Egyptian officials and her powerful boyfriend, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez. But by mid-2019 she had nothing to show for it, she fumed, and now her home was going into foreclosure.

She told the New Jersey businessman seeking the senator’s help with deals, Wael “Will” Hana, that he had to pay up, according to a trove of text messages, emails, photos and bank records that prosecutors displayed last week during Menendez’s corruption trial in Manhattan federal court.

Hana needed Menendez to keep the Egyptians happy, as she put it, and Arslanian needed more than $18,000 to save her home.

“This is a lot of money. He is going to cry like a baby,” texted an associate of Hana’s, Jose Uribe.

“I NEVER forget when someone is there for me in bad times,” she texted back. “and I end up paying them back 100 fold.”

Arslanian, who became Nadine Menendez after marrying the senator in 2020, is undergoing treatment for advanced breast cancer and has not attended her husband’s trial. Yet she has loomed large in the courtroom: Her voice mails are played for jurors, her photos appear on their screens, and her prolific text messages serve as the backbone of the prosecution’s story, portraying the 57-year-old socialite as the conduit to the trio accused of bribing the 70-year-old lawmaker over a four-year period.

A lawyer for Hana testified he paid Arslanian’s mortgage company more than $23,000 to stave off foreclosure in July 2019. And that was just the beginning.

“I have not received any checks from Wael . since the check that was sent to the mortgage company directly . The understanding is that he would give me a check the first of every month,” she texted New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes two months later.

Arslanian asked for a $36,431.46 check. Daibes responded: “Nadine I personally gave Bob a check for September … Please send me a rundown of what you believe you are owed.”

Hana’s company ultimately issued three checks to Arslanian from August to November 2019, each for $10,000, according to the trial evidence. Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York say that they were bribes disguised as consulting fees from a low- or no-show job and that the Menendezes also illegally accepted a Mercedes-Benz convertible, more than a dozen gold bars, hundreds of thousand of dollars in cash and other items.

Menendez has pleaded not guilty, as have Hana and Daibes. All three deny exchanging bribes for political favors. Uribe pleaded guilty and is expected to testify for the government.

Nadine Menendez, whofaces her own trial later this year, also has pleaded not guilty. Her attorney, Barry Coburn, declined to comment last week.

The text and voice messages reveal a woman ready to play hardball.

“I’ve been at the lobby every day to pick up the ch — paycheck that I, especially this past two weeks, earned very correctly and now [Hana] doesn’t want to pay it,” she said in a 2019 voice mail to Daibes. “So if he wants to make public the story that I’m sure he told you, I don’t have a problem making it public and it’s gonna be very, very ugly.”

Hana’s company, IS EG Halal Certified Inc., issued her one of those $10,000 checks the next day. The messages shown to the jury do not elaborate on the story Arslanian said Hana had threatened to make public.

The Democratic senator’s meetings with Hana and Egyptian intelligence officials began almost at the start of his courtship of Arslanian in early 2018, according to the trial evidence. A mother of two with a master’s degree in French literature from New York University, Arslanian would often text Menendez compliments on his looks and called him “my very handsome senator.”

Menendez kept a watchful eye on his new girlfriend, messaging her at times when her location did not appear on a cellphone app that allows consenting users to track each other in real time.

“I lost you!!” Menendez texted Arslanian in January 2019.

“You could never lose me because I will never let go,” she texted back. “I just have a super 40 minute meeting with Will.”

Arslanian would also keep tabs on Menendez, tuning into video feeds of the Senate floor. “Make sure your zipper is UP. Is that woman at the caucus as well? By the way who is she? The one that was all over you , so inappropriate on the Senate floor?” she texted in 2019.

Menendez’s legal team has not tried to defend Arslanian’s torrent of texts and voice messages. Instead, his attorneys have characterized her as a duplicitous schemer and him as unwitting husband.

“She kept him in the dark on what she was asking others to give her,” attorney Avi Weitzman said in his opening statement. “She was outgoing; she was fun-loving. But she wasn’t going to let Bob know that she had financial problems. So what did Nadine do? She tried to get cash and assets any which way she could.”

In one text exchange from 2019 that was shared with the jury, a male acquaintance asked Arslanian to go out with him. She responded the next day that she had been “in DC at the Egyptian embassy.”

“I thought you broke up with Grandpa,” the acquaintance texted back.

“You’d agree with me that Nadine doesn’t respond in a way that defends ‘grandpa’?” Weitzman asked the FBI agent reading Arslanian’s texts from the witness stand.

Hana’s attorney says his client fired Arslanian because she didn’t show up for work and told the jury that she used profanities to refer to Hana when she was frustrated with him. Daibes’s attorney noted that his client did not respond to a 2019 text from Hana — “Hey Fred can you please help naden with car . Thanks” —and that Daibes did not appear in any photos of Menendez meeting with Egyptian officials.

Menendez does not appear as often as his wife in the various chains of texts and emails shared with jurors. In some messages, the senator helps Arslanian polish her resume or register the company through which she collected payments from Hana. In others, Menendez sends her information to pass on to Hana or offers open dates on his calendar for meetings.

“Tell Will I am going to sign off this sale to Egypt today,” Menendez texted Arslanian in one 2018 message, referencing a sale of $99 million in tank ammunition that had been approved by the State Department. “NOTE: These tank rounds are for tanks they have had for many years. They are using these in the Sinai for the counter‐terrorism campaign.”

Early in their courtship, Arslanian asked Menendez to “fix” a letter that Hana had sent her, with talking points that the Egyptian government would use in response to a $300 million hold on U.S. military aid to Egypt and another senator’s concerns about that country’s human rights record.

“Love of my life ,PLEASE, could you fix this letter and send it back to me. I want to prove a point to the General. He and Will just got me clearance for a project. Thank you my love very very very very much,” she texted.

The same night, Menendez emailed back with a letter that began: “I write to respond to some of the issues that have been raised by [Sen. Patrick J. Leahy] and others, which have lead to a hold on $300 million dollars in appropriated aid to Egypt.” Prosecutors say Menendez ghostwrote that letter, addressed to his Senate colleagues, on Egypt’s behalf.

The communications also show Menendez, then the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chafing at some of Arslanian’s requests.

“In your speech , could you please say: Egypt now in the right direction with the new government now. With the International Monetary Fund. And all the new developments, new Capital and the new Suez Canal. Egypt is important to the United States,” Arslanian texted in 2018.

“Really???” he responded.

“Will said please just speak about the IMF that’s important. Thank you mon amour de la vie,” Arslanian texted back, using the French phrase for “love of my life.”

The next year, Menendez texted Arslanian that he would grudgingly meet with Hana and an Egyptian general at a Washington steakhouse: “7:30 Morton’s. This is last time I will do this meeting.”

But the meetings continued. After their wedding in October 2020, the Menendezes traveled to Egypt and dined with Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel, head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate.

It was after returning home from that trip that the senator started Googling “how much is one kilo of gold worth,” according to the trial evidence.



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