December 4, 2023

George Santos

“Indicted Republican George Santos' brief career in the U.S. House of Representatives came to an end on Friday, when fellow lawmakers voted to expel him over criminal corruption charges and accusations of misspending campaign money. The House voted 311-114 to immediately remove the controversial freshman lawmaker, above the two-thirds majority required to oust one of its own.” Reuters

Here’s our previous coverage of Santos. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left generally approves of the vote, arguing that Santos received sufficient due process.

“Congress has always had a full portion of liars, crooks and scoundrels. Still serving is Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), recently found in possession of gold bars and cash stuffed into the pockets of a jacket with his name on it. Before him was Madison Cawthorn, who faced various gun and driving charges and also accused his colleagues of drug-fueled orgies; Duke Cunningham, who accepted a yacht, luxury cars, furniture, rugs and other items listed on a bribe menu he provided to interested parties; William Jefferson, found with $90,000 in cash in his freezer…

“But Santos is different, because he is a perfect distillation of this moment. At a time when Donald Trump’s Republican Party has been flooding the national debate with disinformation and conspiracy theories, Santos showed just how far one could go with a lie, right down to the knee injuries he didn’t sustain while not playing volleyball on a scholarship he did not receive for the college he did not attend.”

Dana Milbank, Washington Post

“Only in the most egregious cases should other lawmakers move to superimpose their will over that of voters, and even then only after due process. Without clear triggers — such as a criminal conviction or a meticulous report by a bipartisan committee tasked with such matters — the temptation to wield expulsion like a partisan weapon would become overwhelming…

“[But] Any suggestion that this has been a rush to judgment is absurd. The House has a well-established bipartisan, deliberative process for investigating allegations of impropriety. And the report on Mr. Santos that the Ethics Committee adopted — unanimously — was a loo-loo, laying out the Botox and OnlyFans details of what the investigators termed ‘serious and pervasive campaign finance violations and fraudulent activity.’”

Michelle Cottle, New York Times

Some argue, “In the five previous expulsions, there was no doubt about what the members had done. In this case, Santos maintains his innocence. Finding him persuasive is not necessary to see that Congress deciding for itself whether voters have made a mistake could lead to more members being expelled for things that they are only alleged to have done, or that fall far short of criminal convictions or armed insurrection. The fact that Santos lied to his voters about his life does not meet this high bar.”

Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

Others posit, “Congress should not outsource its expulsion decisions to the judgment of other branches of government. By requiring conviction as the standard, Congress would effectively let the Justice Department and state prosecutors decide who can and can’t be removed from office. That would be risky on separation-of-powers grounds under normal circumstances. It is especially foolish in an age where one party’s presidential candidate is openly promising to arrest political opponents on spurious grounds.”

Matt Ford, New Republic

From the Right

The right is divided about whether Santos should have been expelled prior to a criminal conviction.

The right is divided about whether Santos should have been expelled prior to a criminal conviction.

“Mr. Santos faces 23 federal charges, including fraud and identity theft. Yet he has pleaded not guilty, and even politicians get a presumption of innocence. Before Friday’s expulsion, which passed 311-114, only five people in history had been booted by the House. Three were removed in 1861 for serving the Confederacy. The other two, in 1980 and 2002, were convicted of serious crimes…

“Mr. Santos is clearly disreputable, and his constituents in New York have a right to be angry about his behavior. But in breaking the seal of expulsion without conviction, Friday’s majority has lowered the bar in a way that partisans will be tempted to abuse. As much as the House didn’t want to put up with Mr. Santos for another minute, lawmakers may come to regret that they didn’t leave his fate to the courts and the voters.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Gerry Studds was censured, but not expelled, in 1983 for conducting a sexual relationship with an underage congressional page; he served another 14 years. Daniel Sickles was not expelled for gunning down the United States attorney for D.C. district in the street in 1859 over an affair with Sickles’s wife; while Sickles was acquitted by a D.C. jury, there was no doubt or dispute that he had killed the man. William Graves was not expelled for killing another member of the House in a duel in 1838…

“There is hardly anyone who doubts that George Santos acted unethically and dishonestly in a variety of ways, some of them plainly criminal…

“[But] he has done nothing within the House as damaging to the functioning of the body as Jamaal Bowman pulling a fire alarm (for which he pled guilty to a crime) to delay a House vote. He was not, unlike Menendez, allegedly acting as a foreign agent and accepting bribes from a foreign government in exchange for information while chairing the committee on foreign relations.”

Dan McLaughlin, National Review

Others argue, “The House wisely waited until the Ethics Committee verified the endless media accounts of Santos’ fabrications and apparent violations of multiple federal laws, but the sheer number of them — including all the lies he ’fessed up to after winning office, on his education, his family’s background, work history​​ and supposed Jewish heritage — left no need to wait any longer.”

Editorial Board, New York Post

“So what now? Republicans now have a four-seat majority in the House, which really doesn’t change much for them at all in this session…

“The NY Republicans in the House will have a slightly easier time running for re-election without the specter of Santos, but even that’s debatable. About the only win for the GOP from this episode is that Republicans can claim to have done the right thing. And that’s undeniable in Santos’ case. That should be enough.”

Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

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