OAN’s Brooke Mallory
4:34 PM – Wednesday, May 17, 2023
A Democrat-led attempt to remove Republican Congressman George Santos from office was blocked on Wednesday. This comes as House Republicans chose to refer the issue to a committee while numerous investigations into the GOP congressman’s behavior were ongoing.
Santos was accused of pocketing thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits. He was charged with 13 federal counts of fraud, money laundering, and other offences.
The New York Republican, who pled not guilty and just recently declared that he would seek reelection next year, had allegedly lied about several aspects of his background and past in an attempt to win his congressional position.
To expedite its consideration in accordance with House rules, Representative Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) introduced a motion on Tuesday to expel Santos from the House as a “privileged” resolution. Republicans proposed sending the bill to the House Ethics Committee on Wednesday. The committee had already started a formal investigation into Santos back in March. By a score of 221 to 204, the simple majority required for that vote to pass was achieved. Seven Democrats had voted present.
Prior to the vote, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) indicated that while he supported removing Santos, “regrettably” there were still not enough votes to do so.
“I believe that this individual is a stain on this institution, a stain on the state of New York, a stain on Long Island and a stain on the beloved Nassau County… With that said, we believe this resolution should be referred to the Committee on Ethics to ensure a thorough and expedient investigation into this matter. I firmly believe this is the quickest way of ridding the House of Representatives of this scourge on government,” D’Esposito said.
The vote also protected other (more vulnerable) Republicans from having to publicly state their opinions about whether the indicted New York congressman should retain his seat. In the House, Republicans have a tenuous four-seat majority and cannot afford to lose any seats.
Two-thirds of the House must vote in favor of expelling a member, therefore Santos’ removal would require the support of numerous GOP lawmakers. Historically, only five House members have ever been expelled.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urged the Ethics Committee to “move rapidly on this.”
“We can look at this very quickly and come to a conclusion on what George Santos did and did not do though Ethics, a safe, bipartisan committee, equal number of Republicans and Democrats,” McCarthy told reporters. “I think they can come back to Congress probably faster than a court case could.”
Democrats in the House have referred to the move as a “cop out.” Former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) predicted that Santos will likely be charged before the Ethics Committee’s investigation is halted.
“That is the nature of how these things work… And traditionally, the Ethics Committee will defer to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution,” Goldman said.
McCarthy’s attempt to “keep an extra vote for his legislation because he has such a narrow majority,” according to Goldman, was the motivation behind the referral.
President Joe Biden had won the district that Santos represents in the 2020 election.
“We all know that Rep. George Santos is a liar and a fraud and should be expelled from Congress,” said Garcia. “Republicans in the House now have an opportunity to stand with the American public and their constituents, or to stand with someone who has been indicted on 13 counts.”
According to Santos, the Democrats “are really good at trying to play judge and jury and trying to hold people guilty before they’ve even been given a free shot at a trial.” He also mentioned that he felt “confident that justice is blind and that it is not biased like Robert Garcia is.”
McCarthy has since stated that if Santos is found guilty, he will immediately be asked to resign and that he will not have his support for another term.
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