The star witness, New Jersey businessman Jose Uribe, faced rigorous cross-examination on Tuesday. Uribe, who has pled guilty to bribing Senator Bob Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, provided detailed testimony about the alleged corruption involving luxury cars, cash payments, and attempts to disrupt criminal investigations.

Uribe, an insurance broker, testified that he bribed Senator Menendez and his wife to halt investigations by the New Jersey Attorney General into his business associates. Over two days, he outlined a scheme where he purchased a Mercedes-Benz convertible for Nadine Menendez and made monthly payments to conceal his involvement.

The trial, which has garnered significant attention, also includes Wael Hana, owner of a halal certification company, and Fred Daibes, a real estate developer, both accused of bribing the senator. All defendants, except Uribe, have pleaded not guilty.

Uribe detailed two critical meetings in 2019 where he sought the senator's help. The first occurred in August, following a parking lot encounter where he handed Nadine Menendez $15,000 in cash for the down payment on the car. During a subsequent dinner with the senator and his wife, Uribe asked for assistance with investigations affecting his associates. Menendez allegedly responded, "He would look into it."

The second meeting happened in early September over brandy and cigars in Nadine Menendez's backyard. Uribe testified that Menendez instructed him to write down the names of individuals under investigation, which the senator then pocketed. The following day, Menendez reportedly informed Uribe that there was "no indication of an investigation against my family," providing him with a sense of relief.

Uribe's testimony painted a picture of a calculated bribery scheme designed to leverage Menendez's political influence. The businessman recounted an October 29, 2019, phone call where Menendez assured him, "That thing that you asked me about, there's nothing there. I give you your peace."

However, the senator's legal team has countered these claims, asserting that Menendez's interactions with the Attorney General were motivated by concerns over selective prosecution of Hispanics. The defense also questions Uribe's credibility, given his own criminal history and plea deal with prosecutors.

During cross-examination, defense attorneys scrutinized Uribe's recollections, probing inconsistencies and his motivations for cooperating with authorities. They highlighted gaps in his memory about specific conversations and suggested that Uribe and Wael Hana may not have always communicated effectively, raising doubts about the senator's awareness of the bribes.

Prosecutors have presented a series of meetings and transactions to substantiate their case. They showed photos of key locations, including a parking lot where Uribe handed over cash and a restaurant where the bribery scheme was allegedly discussed. Uribe's testimony included descriptions of meetings at Il Villaggio in Bergen County and a celebratory dinner where Menendez purportedly boasted about saving Uribe's "ass twice."

In a dramatic moment, Uribe broke down in tears on the stand, recalling the lengths he went to protect his business and family. He testified about a call from the senator, which he interpreted as confirmation that the investigation into his business had been thwarted.

Uribe's cooperation with federal prosecutors comes as he faces charges for seven crimes, some unrelated to the Menendez case. His hope for a lenient sentence hinges on his willingness to testify against the senator, with potential penalties totaling up to 95 years in prison.