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House begins latest effort to expel George Santos after damning ethics probe

Santos could face expulsion vote this week
Santos could face expulsion vote this week 02:27

Washington — The House will try again this week to expel embattled GOP Rep. George Santos after two lawmakers moved Tuesday to force a vote on ousting him in the coming days.

Democratic Rep. Robert Garcia of California was the first to introduce a "privileged" resolution to expel the New York Republican after a damning report from the House Ethics Committee earlier this month said there was "substantial evidence" that Santos repeatedly broke the law. Introducing it as privileged means the House is required to vote on it within two days.

The report alleged Santos stole money from his congressional campaign to pay for his personal expenses, reported fake loans, deceived donors and engaged in fraudulent business dealings. Noting the depth of his embellishments about his education, career and family, investigators said Santos' campaign staff encouraged him to seek treatment for his constant lying. 

Garcia said he introduced his resolution because he wanted to vote on expelling Santos this week, and had doubts that Republicans would actually move forward with a vote on a separate resolution that had been introduced by Republican Rep. Michael Guest of Mississippi before the Thanksgiving break.

"This forces a vote this week," Garcia told reporters. "If they want to introduce their own resolution now that this has happened, they're welcome to do so. But our goal is to expel him this week." 

Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman of New York, a co-sponsor of Garcia's resolution, said it was "an insurance policy" on holding a vote as soon as possible. 

Guest, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, did not initially bring up his resolution as privileged. But Tuesday evening, Republican Rep. Anthony D'Esposito of New York moved to force a vote on Guest's resolution within two days by making it privileged as well. 

The House is now required to act on the competing efforts to oust the indicted congressman by Thursday. 

Santos, who has criticized the report's findings as "slanderous," said last Friday that he expects to be expelled from Congress

"I have done the math over and over, and it doesn't look really good," he said during an audio broadcast on X. 

The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority of House lawmakers to oust a member. 

"Are we to now assume that one is no longer innocent until proven guilty, and they are in fact guilty until proven innocent?" Santos said in a floor speech Tuesday night, arguing that he has not been provided due process, unlike the handful of lawmakers who have been expelled. "I ask that all my colleagues in the House consider and understand what this means for the future."  

Santos has already survived two attempts to remove him this year, with the most recent falling far short of the two-thirds majority needed. The effort was led by a group of New York Republicans after more charges were brought against Santos in October. The first effort to expel him in May, led by Democrats, was blocked by Republicans and referred to the Ethics Committee for further investigation. 

But the release of the Ethics Committee report gave momentum to a third attempt, with lawmakers who previously voted against expelling Santos announcing they would now support it. 

Santos is also facing 23 federal charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. In May, a 13-count indictment alleged Santos participated in a fraudulent political contribution scheme, fraudulently collected unemployment benefits and filed false financial disclosures with the House. A superseding indictment in October added 10 more charges, alleging he used donors' credit cards without authorization and falsified his campaign finance reports. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana has talked to Santos about his options and told him a resignation would prevent members of the conference from "having to take some very tough votes," according to GOP Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma. 

Johnson declined to comment when asked whether Santos should resign. 

Santos said he spoke with Johnson earlier Tuesday and over Thanksgiving, and said the speaker had not asked him to resign. 

"He made a point to say he was not calling to ask me to resign," Santos said. 

The freshman lawmaker has been defiant in rejecting his colleagues' repeated calls for him to step down. Santos has said resigning would mean he's admitting to the allegations in the Ethics Committee's report. 

"I resign, I admit everything that's in that report, which most of it is some of the craziest s**t I've ever read in my life," he said Friday.

He told reporters Tuesday that his colleagues want him to resign "because they don't want to take this tough vote that sets the precedent to their own demise in the future." 

During his floor speech, he reiterated that he would not step down. 

"To set the record straight and put this in the record," he said, "I will not be resigning." 

— Alejandro Alvarez and Nikole Killion contributed reporting. 

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