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US Politics

Santos set to face federal criminal charges

Author: Editors Desk Source: Politico
May 9, 2023 at 22:20
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is expected to appear in court as soon as tomorrow. | Francis Chung/POLITICO
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is expected to appear in court as soon as tomorrow. | Francis Chung/POLITICO

Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican who’s faced numerous allegations of lying about his background, is facing federal criminal charges, according to three people familiar with the situation.

Santos, who gave up his House committee assignments just weeks after he took office in January, is expected to appear in court as soon as tomorrow. In addition to misstatements about his past, he’s also contended with allegations of fraud in his business dealings.

Officials for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, which has been probing Santos’ activities and history, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

Santos and aides in his congressional office also did not reply to requests for comment on the imminent charges, first reported by CNN. But some of Santos’ already fierce critics in the New York GOP took the fresh opportunity to reiterate their insistence that he isn’t welcome in their ranks. 

“These charges bring us one step closer to never having to talk about this lying loser ever again,” first-term Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) said when asked about the Santos charges. 

“Resign,” fellow New York Republican first-term Rep. Mike Lawler simply said.

Rep. Marc Molinaro (R), another first-term New Yorker, echoed Lawler: “He should have resigned in January. He should resign now.”

Lawler, LaLota and Molinaro are among the handful of House Republicans — mostly those who helped the party cruise in Empire State swing districts last fall — who have called for Santos to resign. Those fellow Republicans began turning against him after an avalanche of reports showed he had lied about his background and resume, both on the campaign trail and before his run. 

While Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) has not called for him to resign, she said she was “not surprised” by the news and she looks forward to someone new filling Santos’ seat. 

“I figured this was where it was headed,” Malliotakis said Tuesday. “I would love to see someone new run because I could tell you that we will hold that seat. The sooner George Santos leaves, the sooner we can get someone in there that’s not a liar.”

In fact, Republicans beyond New York were openly stunned by his willingness to hang onto his battleground seat.

“I’m surprised he made it as long as he did,” said Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.).

In New York, the GOP and the conservative parties don’t expect him to resign, according to a Republican familiar with their thinking who spoke candidly on condition of anonymity. Instead, this person said they expect Santos to try and use resignation as a bargaining chip, as they presume he is guilty of the charges set to be filed.

But Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been far more quiet, particularly given that Santos’ vote is integral to his four-seat majority as he wages a major fight with the Biden administration over the debt ceiling. 

Speaking to reporters Tuesday night, the California Republican declined to put pressure on Santos. McCarthy noted that the New Yorker has already ceded his committees, adding that in past cases he has waited until a guilty verdict before calling on a member to resign. 

Oddly enough, Santos became House Republicans’ deciding vote as the party Republicans moved to pass their debt ceiling plan. That vote saw four defections, but absences helped push them to victory.

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