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House votes to expel Rep. George Santos amid fraud scandal

The House voted 311-114 to expel Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., meeting the two-thirds majority required, making him the first lawmaker to be ousted from the House in more than two decades. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI
The House voted 311-114 to expel Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., meeting the two-thirds majority required, making him the first lawmaker to be ousted from the House in more than two decades. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The House on Friday voted to Remove Rep. George Santos from Congress as he faced federal fraud charges and a scathing House Ethics Committee report.

The chamber voted 311-114 to expel Santos, R-N.Y., meeting the two-thirds majority required, making him the first lawmaker to be ousted from the House in more than two decades.

The vote came after the investigation by the House Ethics Committee determined he "violated federal criminal laws."

The vote marked the third attempt to oust Santos less than one year into his term.

A superseding indictment in October charged him with wire fraud, false statements, falsifying records, identity theft and access device fraud as he was accused of taking part in a credit card scheme that repeatedly charged the accounts of campaign contributors. Santos pleaded not guilty to those charges and a trial is set for September.

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., was expelled from the House on Friday amid a fraud scandal. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., was expelled from the House on Friday amid a fraud scandal. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI

Previously, Santos pleaded not guilty in May to more than a dozen charges, including seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making false statements to the House of Representatives.

Santos has remained defiant as the scandal unfolded, refusing to resign under pressure from his colleagues while continuing to proclaim his innocence. However, he said he would not seek re-election.

Rep. George Santos of New York walks to the House floor before being expelled from Congress after a bipartisan vote on Friday. Until then, Santos had survived two other votes to remove him. In May, the Republican-led chamber voted 221-204 along party lines to send a Democratic resolution to expel him to the House Ethics Committee and a second vote in November failed by a vote of 179-213. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI

"Every member expelled in history of this institution has been convicted of crimes or Confederate turncoats guilty of treason. Neither those apply to me, but here we are," Santos said on the House floor Thursday. "On what basis does this body feel that precedent must be changed for me -- an American citizen, duly elected, elected to represent the 3rd District of New York?

"I have been convicted of no crimes, Mr. Speaker."

Republican Rep. George Santos of New York walks to the House floor before being expelled from Congress on Friday. The vote marked the third attempt to oust Santos less than one year into his term.

 Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI
Republican Rep. George Santos of New York walks to the House floor before being expelled from Congress on Friday. The vote marked the third attempt to oust Santos less than one year into his term. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI

The ballot to remove Santos came after a tumultuous 11-month tenure in which the Long Island Republican came under immediate fire for exaggerating his net worth by millions of dollars while it was also found that he made numerous false claims to boost his persona, leading to a public apology for lying about his academic and professional background.

The vote to remove him marks only the sixth time a House lawmaker has faced removal since Congress was established in 1789.

Rep. George Santos of New York takes the elevator en route to the House floor before being expelled from Congress on Friday. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI
Rep. George Santos of New York takes the elevator en route to the House floor before being expelled from Congress on Friday. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI

It's also the third such vote in the House since the Civil War and the first instance of a Republican legislator being expelled without prior criminal conviction in modern times.

The ethics panel, meanwhile, found Santos misused campaign funds for personal expenses, including vacations, beauty enhancements and a subscription to the adult website OnlyFans, among many other allegations.

The elevator doors close as Republican Rep. George Santos of New York takes it en route to the House floor before being expelled from Congress after a bipartisan vote on Friday. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI
The elevator doors close as Republican Rep. George Santos of New York takes it en route to the House floor before being expelled from Congress after a bipartisan vote on Friday. Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI

Santos had survived two other votes to remove him. In May, the Republican-led chamber voted 221-204 along party lines to send a Democratic resolution to expel him to the House Ethics Committee and a second vote in November failed by a vote of 179-213.

During a Thursday news conference on the Capitol steps, Santos denounced the latest effort to remove him, saying of his colleagues: "This will haunt them in the future, where mere allegations are sufficient to have members removed from Congress, when duly elected by their people in their respective states and districts," Santos told reporters.

"This is bullying. It's all theater. It's theater for the cameras. It's theater for the microphones and theater for the American people."

He also on Thursday introduced a resolution to expel Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., after he pleaded guilty in October to a misdemeanor charge of setting off a fire alarm inside an office building.

New York Democratic officials planned to meet Friday night with several candidates that could potentially replace Santos. They will consider which candidate has the best chance of winning the now-vacant seat for Democrats.

According to Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, the meeting is part of a screening process for the upcoming special election that will be necessary now that Santos is expelled from Congress.

Jacobs said among those attending are Queens Democratic Party Chair Rep. Gregory Meeks and former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who held the seat before Santos was elected.