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George Santos to Retain Congressional Seat Despite House Vote Against His Expulsion

George Santos to Retain Congressional Seat Despite House Vote Against His Expulsion
Representative George Santos

A faction of New York Republicans, eager to disassociate themselves from their embattled peer, met with failure in their endeavor to unseat him from his political position.

A Republican-led endeavor to eject Representative George Santos of New York ended in futility on Wednesday evening, as a coalition of lawmakers from Mr. Santos’s home state could not muster adequate support among their peers to justify his removal, despite his admission of deceit and an impending federal indictment.

Even as members of the House censured Mr. Santos for deceiving constituents and benefactors regarding his personal and professional history, including alleged fabrications related to the Holocaust and September 11, many expressed concerns that expelling him at this juncture, nearly a year prior to his trial’s commencement, would establish an undesirable precedent.

Given the Republicans’ slender majority, a situation they are unwilling to jeopardize, numerous party members, including Speaker Mike Johnson, opted to withhold their verdict on Mr. Santos’s fate until after the legal proceedings conclude or an ongoing House Ethics inquiry wraps up.

This vote marks the second occasion in approximately half a year where Mr. Santos, 35, has eluded an expulsion attempt. This outcome enables him to remain in office while defending himself against a 23-count federal indictment that accuses him of participating in an array of fraudulent endeavors.

The resolution, presented by Representative Anthony D’Esposito, a first-term Republican representing a neighboring Long Island district, garnered support from four other New York first-term Republicans. It was largely backed by Democrats, who initiated a similar move in May following Mr. Santos’s initial indictment.

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The endeavor faced a formidable obstacle. Requiring a two-thirds majority for approval, every Democrat and 77 Republicans would have needed to vote for Mr. Santos’s expulsion, assuming all 433 members cast their votes.

Nevertheless, Mr. Santos’s predicament is far from over. His criminal trial is tentatively scheduled for September. Preceding the vote, the House Ethics Committee announced on Tuesday that it was expeditiously assessing the allegations against Mr. Santos and would announce its next course of action by or before November 17.

Mr. Santos, who seeks re-election, also confronts a crowded Republican primary next year, where local and national leaders have declared their non-support.

Nonetheless, he narrowly dodged becoming the first member of Congress to be ejected without a criminal conviction since the Civil War, joining the exclusive ranks of just six House members ever expelled in the institution’s history.

Representative Kelly Armstrong, a North Dakota Republican and former public defender, foresaw the expulsion of Mr. Santos foundering due to concerns about due process.

“What is the purpose of the Ethics Committee if we do not allow it to carry out its responsibilities?” Mr. Armstrong questioned, hours before the vote. He opined that Mr. Santos should resign, but in the absence of a decision from the Ethics Committee or a conviction, the matter becomes a political vote. He emphasized the gravity of 750,000 constituents being unrepresented.

Mr. Armstrong acknowledged that the conference was cognizant of Speaker Johnson’s stance against expulsion, which could influence some members’ views.

“You cannot circumvent due process even in the most challenging cases,” he stated. “The dynamics change once guilt is established.”

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Federal prosecutors leveled 23 felony charges against Mr. Santos, who represents portions of Long Island and Queens, linked to a series of financial machinations involving his personal and campaign finances. Allegations against him include submitting fraudulent financial reports, illicitly obtaining unemployment benefits, appropriating campaign donor identities and credit card information, and falsifying a $500,000 personal campaign loan.

Mr. Santos has maintained his innocence in all charges, branding the case against him as politically motivated and a “witch hunt,” echoing language reminiscent of former President Donald J. Trump when referring to his own four criminal cases.

However, Mr. Santos’s former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, admitted last month to conspiring to defraud the United States. In court, she confessed to collaborating with Mr. Santos to falsify the $500,000 loan and other spurious contributions.

Following Ms. Marks’s plea, Mr. D’Esposito and a coalition of first-term New York Republicans in politically vulnerable swing districts instigated this action, leading to prosecutors lodging ten additional felony charges against Mr. Santos.

Mr. D’Esposito’s resolution cited Mr. Santos’s extensive fabrications in his autobiography, his false associations with the Holocaust and September 11 events, and the pending criminal charges, ultimately concluding: “George Santos is unfit to represent his constituents as a United States congressman.”

On Wednesday, Mr. D’Esposito and his four Republican cohorts from New York issued a letter to the entire House in response to their colleagues’ objections. In a debate preceding the vote, they delivered impassioned speeches on the House floor, imploring fellow lawmakers to unseat Mr. Santos.

“Today, we are establishing a novel precedent, signaling our rejection of dishonest charlatans in the House of Representatives,” Mr. D’Esposito proclaimed.

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In response, Mr. Santos criticized Mr. D’Esposito and his allies for prioritizing political interests over the necessity of due process. “They believe that by attempting to expel me, they will accrue political capital, bolster their political fundraising, and earn accolades from those who disapprove of my voting record,” he stated.

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