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George Santos charged by federal prosecutors

George Santos charged by Justice Department
George Santos charged by Justice Department 00:30

Washington — Republican Rep. George Santos of New York has been charged by federal prosecutors, multiple sources familiar with the matter confirmed to CBS News. 

CNN was first to report that the Justice Department filed charges against the GOP congressman, though the exact nature of the alleged criminal violations is unclear. The charges were filed in the Eastern District of New York, and Santos could appear in court on Long Island as early as Wednesday morning.

Requests for comment from Santos, his congressional office and lawyer were not immediately answered.

Santos was elected to New York's 3rd Congressional District last November, but has spent much of his time in Congress under scrutiny by state and federal prosecutors, following revelations he fabricated aspects of his background. The FBI was also probing Santos' alleged role in purporting to raise funds for a veteran's dying dog through a pet charity, while federal prosecutors were examining his finances and financial disclosures.

While Santos has admitted to "embellishing' parts of his resume, more details about his past conduct have emerged throughout his short tenure in the House. During a 2017 court appearance at a bail hearing for a "family friend," Santos falsely told a Seattle judge he worked for Goldman Sachs, though he has now admitted he never worked directly for the investment firm. 

He also was questioned by the U.S. Secret Service in 2017 as part of an investigation into international credit card fraud, though his connection to the case remains unclear and he was not identified as a suspect in the probe. The Secret Service did, however, receive a sworn declaration from a Brazilian man who claimed Santos was "in charge" of the scheme involving skimmers that were installed at a bank ATM in Seattle.

Separately, Santos was the subject of complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission over his campaign spending and the House Ethics Committee regarding his financial disclosure reports. The ethics panel confirmed in March it had opened a formal investigation into Santos, which will examine whether he engaged in unlawful activity regarding his 2022 congressional campaign, failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House and violated federal conflict of interest laws.

Campaign of Deceit: The Election of George Santos | CBS Reports 22:49

The steady drumbeat of revelations about Santos' past led to calls for his resignation, including from fellow GOP lawmakers in the New York delegation. 

News of the criminal charges filed against Santos led several to reiterate their demands for him to leave Congress.

"Although the details of the federal prosecution are not yet fully known, one thing is crystal clear — either Rep. Santos must resign or House Republican leadership, under Speaker Kevin McCarthy, must summon the courage to join House Democrats in expelling him," Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres said in a statement. "Rep. Santos is a deep rot of corruption at the core of Congress."

McCarthy said he hadn't seen the indictment, but told reporters Tuesday, "I did not put him on any committees." 

"If a person is indicted, they're not on committees," McCarthy said. They have the right to vote, but they have to go to trial."

McCarthy indicated he would ask Santos to resign if he's found guilty, recalling Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry's resignation after he was convicted of lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national.

"I told him he needed to resign and that is my policies and principles on this," McCarthy said.

The embattled congressman has so far resisted the pressure to step down from his seat in Congress, and McCarthy has repeatedly said any decision about Santos's future in Congress will be made by his constituents. The speaker told reporters outside the White House that he would look at the charges filed against Santos by federal prosecutors.

Santos gave up his assignments on two House committees weeks into his term, citing the "ongoing attention" surrounding the investigations into his personal and campaign finances.

Caitlin Yilek contributed reporting. 

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