Critics call for Sen. Menendez resignation if convicted

Posted: Updated:
NEWARK -

Critics of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez are calling for top Democratic leaders to ask the senator to resign if he is convicted of bribery charges.

A group of protesters gathered outside Newark Federal Court Tuesday as the senator entered court for his trial. The group was backing Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s campaign for governor. They say that Guadagno’s Democratic opponent, Phil Murphy, should call for Menendez’s resignation if he is convicted.

“It's Phil Murphy's responsibility to have a response about what the senator should do with his seat if he were convicted in this trial,” says protester Corinne Day. “All he's said is [that] he hasn't thought about it.”

But top state Democrats say that they are supporting Menendez and say that the trial won’t affect the party.

“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and I don’t work in hypotheticals,” says Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.

Prosecutors brought up allegations that the senator tried to pull political strings on behalf of co-defendant Salomon Melgen in U.S. foreign policy during court proceedings Tuesday. Melgen owned a stake in a cargo security screening company in the Dominican Republic but was in a contract dispute with the government. Prosecutors allege that Menendez talked to officials about the dispute on Melgen’s behalf.

Sen. Menendez, meanwhile, says he is keeping on top of issues in Washington. The senator said that he would leave the trial if he was needed to vote on the health care bill. But top Republicans said Tuesday that no vote will take place.

The senator also continued to push for aid for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

The trial will resume Wednesday.

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