Speaker Johnson Talks With Rep. Santos as Expulsion Effort Mounts

Speaker Johnson Talks With Rep. Santos as Expulsion Effort Mounts
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) looks on as the U.S. House of Representatives convenes for the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 3, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has talked with Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) about Mr. Santos’s options during the holiday as the embattled New York congressmen is expected to face expulsion effort for the third time when the House reconvenes this week after the Thanksgiving break.

When asked during his visit to the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in Florida on Nov. 27 whether the House would vote to expel Mr. Santos from the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Johnson responded, “It remains to be seen.”

Mr. Santos’s discussion with Speaker Johnson comes as the New York lawmaker has faced growing calls to resign or encounter expulsion following the House Ethics Committee’s damning report, released on Nov. 16, which found “substantial evidence” that the freshman congressman “violated federal criminal laws and other standards of conduct.”

“I’ve spoken to Congressman Santos at some length over the holiday and talked with him about his options,” Mr. Johnson said. “But we‘ll have to see. It’s not yet determined, but we’ll be talking about that when we get back tomorrow,” he added.

​​In a defiant speech on Nov. 25, Mr. Santos insisted he was “not going anywhere.” But he acknowledged that his time as a member of Congress, at least, may soon be coming to an end.

“I know I’m going to get expelled when this expulsion resolution goes to the floor,” he said during a conversation on X Spaces. “I’ve done the math over and over, and it doesn’t look really good.”

Mr. Santos also said he would not resign, saying, “[if] I resign, I admit everything that’s on that report.” However, shortly after the House Ethics Committee report’s release on Nov. 16, the embattled congressman said he would not seek reelection in 2024.

In his post on X on Monday after his talk with Mr. Johnson, Mr. Santos said the “conversation with the speaker was positive.” He also told Mr. Johnson he would “be standing for the expulsion vote.”

Expulsion Effort

On Nov. 17, Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest (R-Miss.) introduced the motion to remove Mr. Santos from the U.S. House of Representatives following the release of his panel’s report revealing evidence the New York congressman engaged in illegal conduct considered beneath the dignity of Congress.

While Mr. Santos has survived two expulsion votes, many of his colleagues who formerly opposed the effort now say they support it, citing the findings of the committee’s monthslong investigation into a wide range of alleged misconduct by Mr. Santos.

In November, the House voted down a Republican-led effort to remove him from office in a 179–213 vote. A two-thirds majority would have been needed for the measure to pass.

The Findings

House Ethics Committee’s investigation “revealed a complex web of unlawful activity involving Rep. Santos’s campaign, personal, and business finances. Representative Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.”

According to the report, Mr. Santos “blatantly stole from his campaign. He deceived donors into providing what they thought were contributions to his campaign but were, in fact, payments for his personal benefit. He reported fictitious loans to his political committees to induce donors and party committees to make further contributions to his campaign—and then diverted more campaign money to himself as purported ”repayments“ of those fictitious loans.”

In addition, the report said Mr. Santos “used his connections to high value donors and other political campaigns to obtain additional funds for himself through fraudulent or otherwise questionable business dealings. And he sustained all of this through a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff about his background and experience.”

The Ethics Committee report did not make any recommendation for the House, but it would transmit the findings to the Department of Justice.

Mr. Santos would be the sixth lawmaker expelled from the House in history if the expulsion effort succeeds this time. His removal would take away a member from the narrowly controlled House GOP majority and trigger a special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

Savannah Hulsey Pointer and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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