Members of the House of Representatives voted 311 to 114 this morning to expel New York Republican George Santos from Congress. Santos is sixth congressman ever to be expelled from Congress.
The embattled congressman is accused by prosecutors of a number of financial misdeeds, including reimbursing himself for loans to his congressional campaign that he appears to have never actually made — in essence, stealing money from campaign donors.
The House Ethics Committee, led by Rep. Michael Guest R-Miss., corroborated many of the allegations contained in the indictments, per a report released by the committee before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Guest then quickly put forward a resolution to expel Santos from the House of Representatives. If the motion is successful, Santos would be just the sixth representative in history to be fired by his colleagues.
Why is George Santos possibly being removed from Congress?
The freshman lawmaker’s time in Congress has been marred by controversy since before he was sworn in.
The North Shore Leader, a newspaper in Santos’ Long Island district, originally raised questions about claims Santos made during his campaign where he estimated his net worth at roughly $11 million. More extensive allegations were published last December in The New York Times.
Among other lies, the 35-year-old Santos falsely claimed to have been a volleyball star at Baruch College, to have worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and that he was Jewish — stories he later amended or recanted in a December 2022 interview.
“I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” Santos told the New York Post. “I own up to that.”
In May, Santos was indicted on 13 criminal charges including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.
In October, prosecutors added an additional 10 charges in a superseding indictment, following a plea deal by a former campaign finance official affiliated with his campaign.
A House Ethics Committee report released last month echoes many of the allegations levied against Santos by prosecutors and accuses Santos of stonewalling investigators by neglecting to turn over promised documents.
Santos continues to deny criminal wrongdoing. In a conversation streamed on the social media site X, the lawmaker compared himself to Mary Magdalene and accused his fellow lawmakers of trying to “stone him” out of political expediency.
How often are lawmakers expelled from Congress?
It is rare. Santos would be just the sixth lawmaker in U.S. history to be expelled from the House of Representatives.
Three men were expelled for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War.
More recently, Democrats Michael Myers and James Traficant were expelled after being convicted of bribery — in 1980 and 2002, respectively.
For his part, Santos says that if expelled he’ll wear the distinction “as a badge of honor.”
Could George Santos resign to avoid expulsion?
He could resign, but there is no sign that he will choose to do so. Santos says his resignation would be tantamount to admitting guilt.
He has also indicated that he wants to put his fellow lawmakers on the record for setting what he describes as a dangerous precedent. Santos would be the first lawmaker in modern history to be expelled before being convicted of a crime.
Speaker Mike Johnson — a Louisiana Republican and constitutional lawyer — says that while he personally doesn’t like the precedent this would set, his leadership team will not attempt to pressure Republicans to vote either way on the expulsion motion.
Will House Republicans support removing George Santos from office?
Many have said that they will. Among them, fellow freshman New York lawmakers who represent districts that President Biden won in the 2020 presidential election and thus could be vulnerable in the next election cycle.
They include Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler, Nick LaLota, Marc Molinaro, Brandon Williams and Nick Langworthy — who co-sponsored a previous motion to remove Santos.
Some in the Republican conference, though, will likely remain in Santos’ corner. They include Clay Higgins of Louisiana, who described the report released by the Republican-led House Ethics Committee as politically biased and a character assassination.
Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the House, and Santos represents a district that Biden won by 10 points in 2020. It’s possible that some safe seat Republicans could see a vote to keep Santos, who has a reliably conservative voting record, as a necessary step to avoid a Democrat winning back the seat in a special election.
That said, Santos himself has said that he doesn’t like his odds of remaining in office and the vast majority of Democrats are certain to vote for his ouster.
It’s very likely that Santos’ time on Capitol Hill will be over by the end of the week.