NEW YORK (NEWSnet/AP) — The bribery trial of Bob Menendez moves to opening statements Wednesday as prosecutors seek to convince a jury that the New Jersey senator was willing to sell his influence to benefit three businessmen.

Judge Sidney H. Stein said late Tuesday that he expected to have a jury in place by mid-morning on Wednesday, at the latest. Opening statements would start soon afterward.

The three-term senator has insisted since his fall arrest that he is not guilty of charges that he used his influence to aid three New Jersey businessmen, including by providing favors to the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Prosecutors say the men showered Menendez and his wife with gifts to ensure Menendez would help them.

Menendez, 70, is on trial in Manhattan federal court with two of the businessmen. A third has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the other defendants.

Menendez held the powerful post of chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before he was forced out of the job.

Menendez has said he will not be seeking reelection on the Democratic ticket this fall, although he has not ruled out running as an independent.

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