Defiant Santos Vows to File ‘Slew’ of Complaints as Expulsion Nears
WASHINGTON — Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., said Thursday morning he plans to file a “slew of complaints” today and Friday to “make sure … we keep the playing field even” as his colleagues consider tossing him out of Congress.
The vote on Santos’ future is expected to occur on Friday.
On Thursday morning, Santos held a press conference on the triangle outside the Capitol, not to resign or assert his innocence, but to make clear he’s not going to go down quietly.
Though the embattled congressman’s 8 a.m. announcement was largely short on specifics, he did say he plans to file a privileged motion at noon for a vote on expelling Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y.
Bowman was charged last month with a misdemeanor for falsely pulling a fire alarm in a House office building ahead of a key vote.
He later pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor and agreed to pay a fine and write an apology to the Capitol Police.
Santos described his effort to oust Bowman as a matter of “consistency.”
“Here, we have a member of Congress who took a plea deal for pulling a fire alarm … which obstructed and delayed an official hearing … on the House floor,” he said.
“Now, had that been any other person … had it been a Republican member of Congress, we all know that that person would’ve been fired, would’ve been charged with obstructing a congressional hearing … but Jamaal Bowman gets a pass,” he continued.
Santos, who faces 23 federal criminal counts and was the subject, just last week, of a scathing House Ethics Committee report, then drew a distinction between himself and Bowman which he and some others in Congress believe is critical — the embattled representative has yet to be convicted of anything.
If he is expelled on Friday, Santos will be the sixth member in the 234-year history of Congress to be expelled from the chamber.
Three members were expelled during the Civil War for serving in the Confederate army. Rep. Michael Myers, D-Pa., was expelled after he became involved in the Abscam scandal and was caught taking bribes in an FBI sting operation.
Most recently, Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, was removed in 2002 after being convicted on federal charges of bribery, racketeering and fraud.
“So here’s where we are,” Santos said. “Round three of the expulsion from Congress of George Santos from New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
“This is not how I thought this year would go. I don’t think most people in the media thought it would go this way either,” he continued. “It’s just an unfortunate circumstance that I have to sit here and watch Congress waste the American people’s time, over and over again, on something that is in the power of the people, not Congress.
“And that is the power to select and remove members of Congress,” Santos said. “Now, obviously, there are some who want to cling to circumstantial evidence and allegations, but there’s been a long-standing precedent in the House that no member has ever been expelled either without a conviction or without having committed treason.
“Now, they’re trying to join me to a group of three Confederates and two people convicted in a court of law,” he said, adding, “If the House wants to start a different precedent and expel me, that is going to be the undoing of a lot of members of this body,” Santos said.
“This will haunt them in the future [because] mere allegations [will be] sufficient to have members removed from office when duly elected by the people in their respective states and districts,” he said.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., told reporters he had “real reservations” about going down such a road.
He also noted that the House Republican Conference appears to be at odds over the issue.
“There are people of good faith who make an argument, both pro and con, on the expulsion resolution for Santos,” Johnson said.
“There are people who say you have to uphold the rule of law and allow for someone to be convicted in a criminal court before this tough penalty is exacted on them. That’s the precedent so far,” the speaker said.
“There are others who say upholding the rule of law requires us to take this step now because some of the things he’s alleged to have done — according to the House Ethics Committee — are infractions against the House itself,” he said.
In light of that, Johnson said he’s told conference members they should vote their conscience, calling it the “only appropriate thing we can do.”
Santos also took aim at the House Ethics Committee report, which found that he “violated federal criminal laws,” and that he repeatedly lied about his background and spent campaign funds on botox treatments, gambling trips to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and on OnlyFans, an adult entertainment site.
While he declined to go through the report allegation by allegation to offer his explanation of its findings, Santos described the investigative process as rushed, “not full throttled” and incomplete.
Instead of doing its complete due diligence, Santos said, the Ethics panel “decided to stop short of completing the process,” and instead “put out a slanderous report” that he described as an unprecedented move.
“This has never been done in the case of any other member under investigation, yet again changing the precedent just for me, a case in which it seems that all is fair game,” he said.
Santos dismissed the report as “littered with hyperbole” and “littered with opinion” and asserted that “no decent cop would bring such a thing to a prosecutor.”
“But God bless them,” he said of the committee. “I believe they do good work when it’s relevant, but this isn’t one of those instances.”
As for Santos’ privileged motion on Bowman, because it is being filed under privilege, the chamber will be forced to act on the measure within two legislative days.
Johnson and the House Republican leadership, however, will likely hold a procedural vote instead of a referendum on the actual legislation, effectively preventing the chamber from having to vote on Bowman’s expulsion.
Asked why he simply won’t resign and go quietly, Santos said, “because if I leave, they win. If I leave, the bullies prevail. And make no mistake, this is bullying.”
“The reality is this is all just political theater. It is theater for the cameras and it is theater for the microphones … and all at the expense of the American people, because no real work is getting done,” he said.