White House hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., defended Saturday the nearly $1 million he earned in royalties from his book published after his failed 2016 presidential election.

The self-described socialist said he does not "apologize for writing a book that was No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller."

Sanders told supporters that he "didn’t know it was a crime to write a good book," as he pushed back against claims of hypocrisy for wanting to tax the rich. Sanders received three disbursements of royalty money from New York-based publisher Macmillan-St. Martin's Press totaling $900,000, according to his most recent Senate financial disclosure.

“My view has always been that we need a progressive tax system, which demands that the wealthiest people in this country finally start paying their fair share of taxes. If I make a lot of money, you make a lot of money, that is what I believe,” Sanders said, frustrated by the line of questioning. “So again, I don’t apologize for writing a book that was No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller, translated into five or six languages, and that’s that.”

Sanders has made taxing "the millionaires and billionaires" a central component of his presidential campaigns both in 2016 and 2020, blaming the rich for ruining the American economy. "We will no longer tolerate 46 percent of all new income going to the very richest people in this country," Sanders said in his campaign kickoff last month.

Sanders agreed last week to release his tax returns while admitting that he was a millionaire.

The Vermont lawmaker currently sits in second place for the Democratic nomination, according to the latest RealClearPolitics polling average. He trails former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to announce a presidential run, by 10 percentage points.