Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and his wife, Nadine Menendez, are seeking to split their case and have separate trials, according to papers that each of their lawyers filed late Monday, The New York Times reports. Both were charged last fall in a broad federal corruption case in which they, along with New Jersey businessman Wael Hana, were accused of accepting cash and gold bribes in exchange for political favors.
Prosecutors and courts are typically reluctant to sever cases. Both Nadine and Robert Menendez argued, in separate pleadings, that their spouses might decide to testify at their trial, which is set to start in May in Manhattan. That testimony could include "revealing confidential marital communications"; though husbands and wives cannot typically be forced to testify against each other. The request to sever comes a week after Sen. Menendez took to the floor of the Senate to offer an aggressive rebuttal to the charges against him.