The House of Representatives voted to expel scandal-plagued Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., on Friday, making him the first House lawmaker to be expelled in more than 20 years.
A solemn hush fell over the House chamber as Speaker Mike Johnson slammed his gavel, formalizing the historic ouster.
Santos walked out of the House chamber just before all the votes that sealed his fate were cast and did not answer reporters’ questions on his way out.
Expelling a member of Congress takes a two-thirds majority vote. The last time a House lawmaker was expelled was more than two decades ago, when late former Rep. Jim Traficant, D-Ohio, was voted out of Congress in 2002.
Prior to his ousting, Traficant had been convicted of 10 felony counts, including racketeering and taking bribes.
Santos has not been convicted of a crime, but he has been indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, falsification of records, credit card fraud and other charges. Santos has been accused of using campaign funds on a number of luxury goods and treatments such as botox. He has pleaded not guilty.
The 311 to 114 vote was strongly bipartisan, although slightly more Republicans voted to keep Santos than to oust him.
Johnson would not answer reporters’ questions on the Santos expulsion when leaving the House chamber after the vote, including a shouted query from Fox News Digital on whether his exit and the subsequent slimmer GOP majority changes Republicans’ calculus on the current government spending fight.
Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told Fox News Digital after the vote, ‘This was not a partisan effort. It was a reflection that, I think, House members came to a conclusion that, given the facts surrounding Santos, election and post-election, that he defamed the House of Representatives…and was not an appropriate person to represent people in the United States Congress.’
Sentiments within the House GOP on whether to expel Santos appeared split when Republicans emerged from a closed-door conference meeting on Friday morning.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, argued to reporters that expelling Santos now would take away the presumption of innocence he is entitled to. He also referenced Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who was recently accused of taking bribes from and acting in the interest of Egyptian officials, and the fact that he is not being removed from the Senate.
‘He hasn’t been tried either civilly or criminally, and that’s what probably gives me the most pause,’ Issa said. ‘I’ve also become aware that the Republicans on the ethics committee wanted to consider a lesser sanction than removing him, and the three Democrats were not willing to consider anything except the expulsion.’
The House Ethics Committee declined to comment on the statement.
Meanwhile, others, chiefly the New York Republican delegation Santos is part of, maintained there was more than enough evidence to expel him.
‘I believe as I’ve stated that George Santos has committed crimes. He’s defrauded voters, taxpayers and donors. And we have established, through a comprehensive investigation, the standard by which he should be expelled,’ Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., told reporters.
‘I just hope that my colleagues see through any distortion and see that we have an individual who is divorced from reality, who has committed crimes, is a con man and will continue to behave in the way he has and has met the threshold not to serve the house.’
Santos himself said he expected to be expelled from Congress during a Friday morning interview on ‘FOX & Friends.’