Sanders: ‘Premature’ to Say Whether Menendez Should Resign if Convicted of Corruption

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) Sunday dodged a question about whether Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) should resign if he is convicted of corruption charges.

Sanders appeared on CNN's "State of the Union," where host Jake Tapper cited a Suffolk University/USA Today poll that said 84 percent of New Jerseyans would want Menendez to resign if he is found guilty of corruption.

"Where do you come down on this? If Senator Menendez is convicted, should he resign immediately?" Tapper asked.

"I think in this country, people are entitled to due process. I'm not into speculating what if that will be Menendez' decision," Sanders said. "He has not been convicted. Let the process take its course."

"In America, that's what it's about. You have a trial and people — the jury makes its decision," Sanders added. "They have not made their decision, so I think it's a little bit premature to be talking about that."

Sanders, who caucuses with the Senate Democrats, is not the first senator to stay quiet on whether Menendez should resign if convicted of corruption and bribery. Several of Menendez's Democratic colleagues, many of whom have received money from him, will not say whether he should resign if convicted.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) backed Menendez's "spirited defense," and Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) showed his support at the courthouse. Neither of them have even conditionally called for Menendez to resign.

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 that the senator started taking bribes from Melgen shortly after he entered the Senate in 2006.

Menendez is being charged with 12 corruption-related counts, including six counts of bribery.