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House debates Rep. George Santos expulsion ahead of Friday vote

The New York Republican remains defiant but said on the House floor that he has 'accepted that I cannot control that fate'

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., holds a news conference Thursday outside the Capitol to discuss the upcoming vote to expel him from Congress.
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., holds a news conference Thursday outside the Capitol to discuss the upcoming vote to expel him from Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House set up a Friday vote that will determine whether Rep. George Santos will be thrown out of Congress, and the New York Republican used the eve of the vote defending himself against allegations, bashing other members and criticizing the process that got him to this point.

At a cold early morning press conference in front of the Capitol, Santos sounded somewhat jaded by the third attempt to purge him as he leveled with the press and referred to himself in the third person.

“We are due to go for round three of expulsion of Congressman George Santos from NY-3. I think we can all look back and say, ‘This is not how at least I thought this year would go.’ I don’t think this is how most people in the media would think this year would go,” he said.

Santos called the expulsion a waste of the American people’s time. And he introduced a resolution Thursday to expel Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of pulling a fire alarm ahead of a floor vote this year. He said he also plans to file complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Ethics Committee against members who he said have participated in misconduct.

“I will be filing a slew of complaints in the coming hours of today and tomorrow to make sure that we keep the playing field even,” Santos said.

The House on Thursday afternoon debated a resolution that would make Santos the first member to be booted without a criminal conviction or ties to the Confederacy. It requires a two-thirds majority vote.

Santos is charged in a 23-count federal criminal indictment that accuses him of a fraudulent political contribution solicitation scheme, an unemployment insurance fraud scheme, filing false financial disclosure statements with the House, filing fraudulent fundraising reports and charging donors’ credit cards without permission. And an Ethics panel report found Santos used campaign funds on personal expenses from paying down his own debt to luxury purchases at Hermes.

Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., on the floor called Santos a “future former colleague” who “is divorced from reality” and who has “lost the right to serve in this House.”

Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., who served as one of the lead lawmakers on the Santos Ethics panel investigation, said he is “not a victim. He is a perpetrator of a massive fraud on his constituents.”

And Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest, R-Miss., who authored the expulsion measure, said, “George Santos has built his persona, his personal and political life, on a foundation of lies.”

Guest added that Santos had spent campaign funds of “almost $3,000 on Botox treatments.”

Santos and those who oppose his expulsion say he has not been afforded due process and that expulsion should be reserved until a member is convicted.

Guest, a former prosecutor, argued Santos was afforded due process because he was given adequate notice, along with the opportunity to be heard and to go before an impartial tribunal.

Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, disagreed, saying the move would put the House in “uncharted waters” and that kicking Santos out before a conviction would set a “very dangerous precedent for this Congress.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who himself had been the subject of a criminal investigation, said that if Santos “is convicted, he ought to be expelled,” but until then expulsion should not be considered.

It’s unclear whether Santos will be kicked out Friday. Members of GOP leadership have expressed hesitation on the vote, including Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., who said Santos will “have his day in court, which he deserves.”

Santos has said he thinks he will be expelled and on the floor Thursday said he has “accepted that I cannot control that fate.”

Paul V. Fontelo contributed to this report.

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