House rejects efforts to oust Rep. George Santos from New York

Rep.  George Santos, R-La., listens as Republicans Rep.  Mike Johnson, R-La., as the next speaker of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at the Capitol in Washington.  25, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

House rejects efforts to oust Rep. George Santos from New York

KEVIN FREKING and STEPHEN GROVES

November 1, 2023

Rep. George Santos easily survived a vote to expel him from the House of Representatives on Wednesday, as most Republicans and 31 Democrats opted to suspend the sentence while both his criminal trial and a House Ethics Committee investigation continued.

The effort to kick Santos out of the House of Representatives was led by his fellow Republicans in New York, who are eager to distance themselves from a colleague infamous for fabricating his life story and accused of stealing from donors, lying to Congress and receiving unemployment benefits that he did not receive. to deserve.

But the resolution failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority. The supporters could not even win a simple majority; the final vote was 179 in favor of expulsion and 213 against.

To succeed, numerous Republican lawmakers would have had to break ranks with newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson, who has said Santos should get his day in court. Johnson (R-La.) also recently told Fox News that if Congress is going to expel members because they are accused of a crime or accused of wrongdoing, that’s a problem.

Some Democrats also expressed concern about pre-empting the Ethics Commission, which had issued a rare memo the day before, citing the depth of the investigation that involved contacting some 40 witnesses and the issuance of 37 subpoenas. It also said the next steps of the committee’s investigation would be announced on November 17.

Congress has rarely resorted to the most extreme punishments at its disposal. The House of Representatives has only expelled five members in its history, three during the Civil War and two after their conviction on public corruption charges. It would be groundbreaking if the House of Representatives throws out Santos before his case is resolved in federal court.

Some Republicans, however, said they had seen enough from Santos. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said he believes in due process, but also thinks Santos misrepresented himself to New York voters and that they would never have elected him if they had known the real George Santos.

We don’t need the Santos charade for the entire 2024 election cycle. “I think Congress needs to take action now,” Womack said.

The debate in the House of Representatives on whether Santos should be deported was conducted exclusively by members of New York’s congressional delegation. On the one hand, Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota and Mike Lawler have laid out their case for Santos’ expulsion.

“Mr. Santos is a stain on this institution and unfit to serve his constituents in the House of Representatives,” D’Esposito said.

On the other side was Santos, who called on lawmakers to delay deportation. He said passing judgment without due process would reduce mistrust.

“I am fighting tooth and nail to clear my name in front of the whole world,” Santos said. It hasn’t been easy, but I fight by God’s grace.

The only Democratic lawmaker to speak during the debate was Rep. Dan Goldman. He said Santos should have been deported in May when Democrats filed an expulsion resolution, and the only reason New York Republicans were in charge now was because Santos hangs like an albatross around the neck of every New York Republican.

“They care no more about integrity, morality or the reputation of this institution than they did in May when they voted to protect Mr. Santos.” They only care about their re-election in a year if they know their support for George Santos is going to be a problem.

New York Republicans detailed the charges Santos faces in federal court in their expulsion resolution. The charges indicate that Santos committed serious financial fraud during his 2022 campaign for the House of Representatives. According to the resolution, he misled voters regarding his biography and is unfit to serve his constituents as a representative of the United States.

Mr. Santos has said that deporting him before he is formally charged and found guilty would set a new precedent in this body, one that could have negative consequences for generations,” LaLota said. “With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, I disagree. The consequences and precedents of not expelling him because of his lies and fraud have the potential to do much more damage to this institution.

In May, Republicans under then-Chairman Kevin McCarthy of California sidestepped the Democratic-led effort to oust Santos. While 204 Democrats voted against a motion to refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee, Republicans in the House of Representatives stood united behind the efforts that delayed action against Santos’ behavior.

Johnson, who took over the gavel last week, made it clear that he would prefer not to impeach Santos at this time, despite the many charges against the congressman, as Johnson struggles to control a very slim majority.

He has only been charged. He has not been found guilty of anything. We have due process in America,” said Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which opposed the expulsion resolution.

But in a sign that not everyone in the Republican leadership shares this view, No. 3 Republican Tom Emmer of Minnesota spoke last week alongside New York Republicans as they introduced the resolution.

Democrats were also more divided than during the previous explosion against Santos. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) called it a complicated vote because she would like to wait for the committee to release its findings first.

If there is a report, I think we owe it to ourselves to give ourselves a few weeks so we can all work from the same information, she said.

Lawler, one of the architects of the expulsion resolution, has argued that the House now has sufficient evidence to expel Santos, even though the criminal trial against Santos has not yet been completed. Lawler pointed to a guilty plea that Santos’ ex-treasurer entered to a fraud conspiracy charge related to Santos’ campaign.

So you now have a conviction in this case that lays out very clearly what he did and how he did it, Lawler said.

D’Esposito, the resolution’s lead sponsor, said he spoke with Johnson this weekend about their efforts and that the speaker did not ask him to withdraw the resolution.

He has said very clearly that you have to do what you think is right and you have to do what you think is right for the people of New York, D’Esposito said.

Santos faces 23 charges in federal court. His trial is scheduled for September next year. He has denied being guilty of these charges.

Also on Wednesday night, the House of Representatives voted to reject an effort to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Democrats stopped an effort to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

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