“The truth of it is, it’s theater. It’s theater for the cameras, it’s theater for the microphones, it’s theater for Americans at the expense of the American people, because no real work is being done.,” Santos said as he stood in front of the U.S. Capitol on a chilly morning, surrounded by a throng of reporters and cameras.
Debate is set to begin on Thursday on a resolution to expel Santos from Congress following the release of a scathing Ethics Committee report. Voting is expected to take place on Friday.
The New York Republican also faces 23 federal charges including fraud, money laundering, falsifying records and aggravated identity theft.
If the resolution passes, Santos will become the sixth lawmaker in US history to be expelled from the House after more than 20 years. On Thursday, Santos noted that he was the first lawmaker in modern times to be expelled without being convicted of a crime.
“If the council wants to set a different precedent and kick me out, that would be the undoing of a lot of members of this organization,” Santos said. “Because it will come back to haunt members in the future when mere allegations are enough to remove them from office when duly elected by the people of their respective states and districts.”
11 of the most serious allegations in the House ethics report against Santos
Santos said he plans to introduce a resolution to expel Rep. Jamal Bowman (DNY), who pleaded guilty last month to pulling a false fire alarm at the Cannon House office building.
Santos mocked lawmakers for moving the vote on his ouster from Thursday to Friday.
“Today is my second wedding anniversary and I’m going to enjoy it and try to forget the fact that it’s been a year from hell,” Santos said.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) expressed “real reservations” about the motion to expel Santos on Wednesday, but said lawmakers would be free to “vote their conscience.”
“We haven’t voted, we won’t vote,” Johnson told reporters at the time. “I hope people make that decision thoughtfully and in good faith. Personally, I have real reservations about doing this. I’m worried about the precedent.”
Chairman of Ethics Committee Rep. A bill introduced earlier this month by Michael Guest (R-Miss.) seeks to remove Santos from the House. On Tuesday night, another Republican representative. Anthony D’Esposito (NY), asked the guest to move the resolution under privilege, meaning it must be considered within 48 hours. On Thursday, Guest criticized Santos for not even being “committed” to filing a privilege motion.
Nov. The ethics committee report, released on the 16th, accused Santos of stealing money from his campaign, defrauding donors, creating fictitious loans and engaging in fraudulent business practices. The report alleges Santos repeatedly used funds for his campaign for personal enrichment, including spa fees and paying off his own credit card debt.
“Representative Santos attempted to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own financial gain. He blatantly stole from his campaign. He tricked donors into making what they thought were donations to his campaign, but were actually payments for his personal benefit,” the report said.
According to the report, Santos was given the opportunity to submit a signed written statement responding to the allegations to investigators, but he did not. Santos did not respond to the panel’s requests for documents to voluntarily testify or provide a statement under oath. Investigators noted that they thought any testimony from Santos would have “low probative value based on his admitted practice of grooming.”
Santos on Thursday declined to elaborate on the report, saying later that he would respond “line by line.” He remained steadfast in his decision not to run for re-election, reminding a reporter that he was only 35 years old.
“It doesn’t mean goodbye forever,” he said.
Mariana Alfaro contributed to this report.