George Santos Expelled
The serial fabulist becomes an ignominious footnote.
NYT (“Highlights From the Vote to Expel George Santos From Congress“):
George Santos, the New York Republican congressman whose tapestry of lies and schemes made him a figure of national ridicule and the subject of a 23-count federal indictment, was expelled from the House on Friday after a decisive bipartisan vote by his peers.
The move consigned Mr. Santos, who over the course of his short political career invented ties to the Holocaust, Sept. 11 and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, to a genuine place in history: He is the first person to be expelled from the House without first being convicted of a federal crime or supporting the Confederacy.
Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana announced the tally to a hushed House chamber: The measure, which required a two-thirds majority, passed with 311 lawmakers in favor of expulsion, including 105 Republicans, and 114 against. Two members voted present.
“The new whole number of the House is 434,” a downcast Mr. Johnson announced, confirming that with Mr. Santos’s ouster, the already paper-thin margin of Republican control had shrunk to three votes.
Mr. Santos’s expulsion ends one of the most turbulent political odysseys in recent memory, a stunning reversal in fortune for a political outsider whose election in Long Island and Queens last year was once heralded as a sign of Republican resurgence.
Instead, he became a Republican Party liability whose vast web of lies and misdeeds led many to question how he had managed to escape accountability for so long.
Mr. Santos, 35, had seemed poised to outrun accountability, surviving two previous expulsion efforts. Republicans who backed him voiced what became the core of his defense: expelling him before he was convicted or found culpable by the House Ethics Committee would set a dangerous precedent.
But in a scathing 56-page report released last month, ethics investigators found “substantial evidence” that Mr. Santos had broken federal law, casting his candidacy as a long-running grift.
The political tides quickly turned. Mr. Santos immediately declared that he would not seek re-election. Democrats and Republicans alike rushed to condemn him, including the Republican chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Michael Guest of Mississippi, who personally moved to have him removed from office and offered forceful testimony Thursday during a debate on his expulsion.
The debate captured the absurdity and unseemliness of Mr. Santos’s scandals. His use of campaign funds on Botox treatments was invoked several times. His detractors pointed to invented ties to the Holocaust and to his claims, contradicted by paperwork, that his mother was at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
“George Santos is a liar — in fact, he has admitted to many of them — who has used his position of public trust to personally benefit himself from Day 1,” said Representative Anthony D’Esposito of New York, who was Mr. Santos’s closest congressional neighbor and most ardent Republican foe.
Mr. Johnson and other Republican leaders — fearful of losing Mr. Santos’s vote or losing his seat to a Democrat in a special election — still opposed the resolution; he and his entire leadership team voted against expulsion Friday morning.
But after Mr. Johnson told his members to “vote their conscience,” nearly half of his conference chose to expel Mr. Santos, a remarkable rebuke from his colleagues.
They only let him go so long out of kindness, I suppose.