Kamala Harris Refuses to Say Whether Felony Conviction Should Disqualify a Senator From Serving

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Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) on Friday joined many of her Democratic Senate colleagues in refusing to say whether Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) should continue serving if he is convicted on corruption charges.

A Republican tracker asked Harris if convicted felons should be able to serve in the Senate while she was in Ohio this past weekend, and the senator stayed silent. Harris, who some consider a possible 2020 presidential candidate, had a slate of fundraisers with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), and she kept quiet about Menendez as she entered and exited those events.

"Senator Harris, should a convicted felon be allowed to serve in the Senate?" the tracker asked. He repeated the question at five different times and locations but never heard from the California senator.

"You having a good day, sir?" a male aide replied while Harris walked into a building.

Harris' silence echoes that of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and many others who have refrained from saying Menendez should step down in the event that he is convicted.

Menendez and co-defendant Dr. Salomon Melgen went on trial last week for 18 counts of bribery and fraud. Melgen is an ophthalmologist whom prosecutors say bribed Menendez, and commentators such as MSNBC's Ari Melber have noted that the case against them appears to be strong.

But Schumer only praised Menendez for his "spirited" defense, and also refused to answer whether Menendez should resign in the case of his conviction.

"Senator Menendez is fighting very hard and we respect that greatly," Schumer said.

Other Democratic senators who did not say whether Menendez should resign if convicted include Jon Tester (Mont.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Ben Cardin (Md.).

Many Democratic senators have also taken campaign money from Menendez this past year through his political action committee, New Millennium, despite his 2015 indictment.

New Millennium contributed $10,000 to several Democratic senators' campaigns, including Debbie Stabenow's (Mich.), Jon Tester's (Mont.), Kirsten Gillibrand's (N.Y.), and former Hillary Clinton running mate Tim Kaine's (Va.).

Harris recently made headlines for supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I., Vt.) Medicare for all plan, but she laughed off speculation that she is angling for a presidential run.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is a media analyst with the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at crookston@freebeacon.com.

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