Perez, Senate Democrats Won't Say Whether Menendez Should Leave Senate if Convicted in Corruption Case

November 12, 2017

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez and two top Senate Democrats on Sunday refused to say whether Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) should step down if he is convicted by a jury in his corruption trial.

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) whether he thought Menendez should step down from his Senate seat if the jury convicts him, emphasizing the meaning of conviction versus their previous exchange on allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama.

Van Hollen said that he was going to leave the case to the jury and was not going to get ahead of the game when it comes to making a decision on whether he should step down.

"People on the jury will look at the facts, just like people in Alabama will have to look at the facts, and they'll have to render a decision," Van Hollen said. "I'm not going to speculate about what the outcome of that jury decision will be."

Similarly, CNN's Jake Tapper asked Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) Sunday whether he would vote to expel Menendez if he is convicted of the corruption charges.

"I'm not going to get into the hypotheticals on either of these situations, as I said several steps removed," Durbin said, also referring to the Moore accusations. "I'm hopeful that when all is said and done that Bob Menendez will be returning to the Senate representing the state of New Jersey."

ABC's Martha Raddatz also asked Perez Sunday whether he thinks that Menendez should resign if he is found guilty of corruption.

"We'll wait and see what happens. The jury has not spoken yet," Perez said.

"But should he resign if he's found guilty?" Raddatz asked.

"Again, the jury has not spoken yet, so I don't like to answer what-if questions," Perez said.

Menendez is accused of carrying out "official favors" for his friend and mega-donor, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, in exchange for private jet flights, vacations, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. Federal prosecutors allege the senator started taking bribes from Melgen shortly after he entered the Senate in 2006.

Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, a juror dismissed from the corruption trial, told CNN on Friday that she believes that the case is headed toward a "hung jury."

"It's going to be a hung jury," she said. "I gave him my feelings about what was going on in the jury room. I just wanted to express to him that we couldn't reach an agreement."