Me? Take my wife — please. 

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez didn’t know anything about the gold bars hidden inside his home, his lawyer insisted in court Wednesday — blaming the pol’s “dazzling, tall” wife for stashing the trove away without his knowledge.

The veteran Democrat’s lawyer told jurors in Manhattan federal court that Nadine Menendez “sidelined” her hubby — who prosecutors allege took the gold bars, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and a Mercedes convertible, in exchange for wielding his influence to benefit three Garden State businessmen and the governments of Qatar and Egypt.

“Where were the gold bars found? [The] gold bars were found in a locked closet. It is Nadine’s closet,” Menendez’s attorney Avi Weitzman said during opening statements, pulling up a photo of the closet, which he said was “filled with [Nadine’s] clothes.”

“The senator did not know the gold bars were there,” Weitzman told jurors during the remarks, delivered loudly at a near-shout. 

“[Nadine] kept Bob sidelined. Nadine had these relationships long before she met Bob,” he added.

The feds found 13 gold bars worth over $150,000 and nearly $500,000 in cash when they raided the couple’s Englewood Cliffs, NJ home in June 2022 — all “fruits” of a corrupt scheme that began in 2018, when Bob and Nadine were just starting to date, prosecutors claimed.

“This case is about a public official who put greed first. Who put his power up for sale,” Manhattan Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz said in her opening remarks, as Menendez, 70, sat at the defense table in a gray suit, pink tie and with a Senate pin on his lapel, looking at the jurors with a poker face while resting his chin on his hands.

“This was not politics as usual. This was politics for profit.”

Menendez could be bought with gold bars, the prosecutor said.

“He was powerful. He was also corrupt. And what was his price? Gold bars,” Pomerantz said as US Attorney Damian Williams listened from the second row of the gallery. 

“The scheme filled his pockets, it filled his wife’s pockets, and it fed their greed,” she added. “Menendez abused his positions to feed his own greed and to keep his wife happy.”

The prosecutor noted that Menendez was cautious to never discuss the alleged bribery scheme in writing with his wife — and purposefully used her as an intermediary. 

“He was careful not to send too many texts,” Pomerantz told the jury. “He used Nadine as his go-between to deliver messages to and from the people paying bribes.”

But Weitzman called prosecutors’ allegations “dead wrong” and said that Menendez was just doing “his job” by reaching out to constituents and doing “diplomacy.”

Follow The Post’s latest coverage on New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s indictment

At one point Weitzman showed a slide with a “Where’s Waldo” cartoon that had the title changed to “Where’s Bob” — drawing laughs from jurors and even prosecutors.

“In this case we need to figure out Where’s Bob? I’ll tell you where — he was doing his job in DC,” Weitzman said. 

The attorney described Nadine — who also faces charges in the case but is not set to go to trial until July — as a “beautiful, tall, international woman” of Lebanese descent whose family collected gold, which they had left to her.

He claimed much of the gold found by the feds had been left to Nadine by her family, telling jurors, “It’s cultural. They like to give gold and other precious metals as gifts,” including for christenings and baby namings.

“The evidence will show that Nadine’s family had a lot of gold,” Weitzman claimed. But the attorney did not explain why the gold bars in the closet allegedly had serial numbers that can be traced back to Fred Daibes, a co-defendant in the case who is accused of bribing the couple.

The lawyer painted a picture of a married pair who lead separate lives — including having their own bank accounts and phone plans.

Nadine even hid her financial problems from her husband and “kept him in the dark about what she was asking others to give her,” Weitzman claimed.

What we know about Bob Menendez’s indictment

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is facing federal corruption charges related to an alleged years-long scheme.

Menendez allegedly accepted bribes, including gold bars, in exchange for helping three businessmen, Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, and the country of Egypt, according to officials.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine, were charged with taking hundreds of thousands in bribes, according to a Manhattan federal indictment.

When the feds raided Menendez’s Englewood Cliffs home in June 2022, they found a 2019 Mercedes C-Class, at least 13 gold bars, and $566,000 in cash “stuffed in envelopes.” Another $70,000 in cash was found in Nadine’s safe deposit box. 

The feds say Menendez also received mortgage payments and paid for a low-show or no-show job and home furnishings.

This isn’t the first time the Democrat is facing federal corruption charges. In 2015, Menendez was accused of taking gifts from Florida eye surgeon Salomon Melgen.

The “gifts” included a Paris vacation, flights on a private jet, and vacations at Melgen’s villa in the Dominican Republic.

The attorney said there was also an innocent explanation for all the cash found in the Menendez home, claiming that the senator had inherited generational trauma from his family’s experience fleeing Cuba as refugees who hid what little money they had in a grandfather clock. 

“Who has gold bars in their home? Smells a bit fishy you might think,” Weitzman said. “Resist that urge. They want you to be blinded by the gold and the cash.”

And, Weitzman claimed, the Mercedes bought for the Menendezes was not a bribe, but merely an innocent replacement for a car that Nadine had “crashed.”

Weitzman did not tell jurors that Nadine had wrecked the previous car in a traffic accident that killed Richard Koop on Dec. 12, 2018. She was found not at fault in the tragedy.

Nadine was not in court. Her lawyer, David Schertler, declined to comment.

Trial began Monday with jury selection, in a painstaking process that lasted over two days and saw dozens of prospective jurors excused for bias or scheduling issues from the case that is slated to last through July.

Menendez took copious notes Wednesday morning as prospective jurors told the judge about their jobs, hobbies and where they get their news from.

The senator looked over his shoulder and eyeballed most of the panelists while they introduced themselves.

Who’s involved in the indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez

The New Jersey Democrat is facing charges of taking gold bars and bribes and stashing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash around his house in return for using his “power and influence” — including his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — to benefit the Egyptian government and two local businessmen.

Sen. Robert Menendez and Nadine Menendez

The New Jersey Democrat was indicted Friday for allegedly accepting a Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, 13 gold bars and $566,000 in cash, which FBI agents found “stuffed in envelopes” after a June 2022 search of his home.

Senator Menendez’s wife, Nadine, was indicted alongside her husband for taking bribes. The Menendezes also received mortgage payments, a recliner, exercise machines and other items in exchange for shielding co-defendants Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes.

Bob Menendez also allegedly attempted to intervene in a criminal case against Daibes by recommending President Biden pick current New Jersey US Attorney Philip Sellinger, who the senator believed would apply a light touch to the case.

If convicted on all charges, the Democratic senator faces up to 45 years in prison.

Fred Daibes

Menendez and his wife allegedly had a longstanding relationship with New Jersey real estate developer Fred Daibes, who court papers say bribed the couple with gold bars and cash for a series of favors, including the senator’s help disrupting a federal prosecution into Daibes.

Daibes received probation after pleading guilty last year to entering false loan information.

Jose Uribe

In April 2019, Menendez’s wife met a former insurance agent from Union City, NJ, Jose Uribe, “for five minutes.” Nadine Menendez ducked into the parking lot of a restaurant where Uribe, 56, handed her $15,000 in cash, court papers allege.

She then used the cash to make a down payment on a Mercedes-Benz C-class convertible – while Uribe asked the senator to tamper with the state attorney general’s prosecution of one of his colleagues for insurance fraud, according to the court docs.

Wael Hana

Menendez allegedly updated unnamed Egyptian officials in real-time about US military aid to the country through Edgewater, NJ, businessman Wael Hana. The businessman sent Menendez’s proposal for foreign military sale to Egypt of tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition for firearms and tanks to an Egyptian official for approval.

In early 2021, Hana allegedly used funds from his halal business to send two exercise machines and an air purifier, among other items, to the Menendez home.

In exchange for these gifts and other alleged bribes, Menendez improperly pressured a US Department of Agriculture official to protect Hana’s “exclusive monopoly,” granted in 2019, on signing off on US food exported to Egypt as compliant with halal standards, despite Hana having no prior experience with halal certification, the feds said.

Menendez appeared to take particular interest in prospective jurors who expressed Christian devotion, including a pastor from Westchester with degrees in theology and divinity who reads both Qatar-based outlet Al Jazeera and Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.

He also paid close attention as one man explained he’s an adjunct professor in theology at St. John’s University who watches the Simpsons and Seinfeld reruns but doesn’t consume much political news.

The veteran politician also seemed particularly engaged when a man said he was a school social worker who reads his Bible, doesn’t watch the news and said, “I give all my time to my church.”

It was not immediately clear whether these three religious men made it onto the final jury panel as the pool was whittled down during a lightning-fast process, where lawyers from both sides used their strikes in fast succession to dismiss people they felt wouldn’t be fair and impartial decision-makers.

Jury selection wrapped around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday after 12 jurors and six alternates were chosen.

Judge Sidney Stein previously told the pool of possible jurors that they could hear about or even see testimony from a slew of US politicians including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

This is the second federal corruption and bribery trial that the Garden State senior senator is facing in less than a decade, after he dodged a conviction at a prior criminal trial that ended with a hung jury in 2017.

Menendez — who has been free on $100,000 bail — is being tried alongside co-defendants and New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana and Daibes, whose interests the pol allegedly helped advance for wealth and gifts.

Menendez has denied all the charges and his co-defendants have also pleaded not guilty.

Uribe, a third businessman involved in the alleged scheme, pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the feds.

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