- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that having Sen. Robert Menendez in the U.S. Senate would be “inappropriate” if he’s convicted in his federal corruption case.

“I think that’ll be a decision for members of the Senate,” Mr. Pence said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” “But having a convicted felon in the United States Senate, I think, would be altogether inappropriate and wrong.”

Mr. Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, is currently on trial for 18 criminal counts, including claims he accepted lavish gifts from friend in exchange for political favors. The trial is expected to move ahead after a judge dismissed a motion for acquittal Monday. 

Mr. Pence indicated that he would leave the decision of whether to expel Mr. Menendez up to the Senate, as is tradition. 

“I want to be respectful of the processes and the traditions of the institution,” he added.

The Senate can decide whether to expel or censure Mr. Menendez if he is convicted. A censure is a less severe punishment that allows the member to hold his office, but can have negative consequences on his relationship and standing in Congress.

Expulsion is extremely rare and has not happened since the Civil War when Confederate members were expelled. This is partly due to senators choosing resignation over the formal process of expulsion.

Part of Mr. Pence’s duty as vice president is to preside over the Senate, according to the Constitution.

Although he can only cast a tiebreaker vote and can only address the Senate with the members’ permission, his opinion on such matters can have an impact, especially since Mr. Pence has become the chief liaison between Congress and the White House.

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