WASHINGTON (AP) — A defiant Rep. George Santos warned on Thursday that his expulsion from Congress before being convicted in a court of law would establish a new precedent that “is going to be the undoing of a lot of members of this body.”
The first-term Republican congressman from New York could well become just the sixth member of Congress to have been expelled by colleagues. Republicans and Democrats have offered resolutions to remove him, and the House is expected to vote on one of them Friday.
While Santos survived two earlier expulsion efforts, a critical House Ethics Committee report released on Nov. 16 has convinced more members that his actions merit the House’s most severe punishment.
Santos preempted the vote with a press conference just outside the Capitol early Thursday. He noted that, of the previous expulsions, three were for disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War and two were for lawmakers who had been convicted in federal court. In short, he presented himself as someone who was being treated differently.
“This will haunt them in the future where mere allegations are sufficient to have members removed from office when duly elected by their people in their respective states and districts,” Santos said.
The House Ethics Committee, in its scathing report, said it had amassed “overwhelming evidence” of lawbreaking by Santos that had been sent to the Justice Department, concluding flatly that he “cannot be trusted” after a monthslong investigation into his conduct.
Santos faces a 23-count federal indictment that alleges he stole the identities of campaign donors and then used their credit cards to make tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges. Federal prosecutors say Santos, who has pleaded not guilty, wired some of the money to his personal bank account and used the rest to pad his campaign coffers.