House Expels George Santos From Congress in Historic Vote

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 his 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.

After months of congressional hand-wringing, Mr. Santos finally met his demise on Friday, after Republicans and Democrats each offered separate expulsion resolutions.

Mr. Santos walked out of the chamber before the vote was finished. Descending the House steps to a waiting car, Mr. Santos told reporters he was ready to turn the page on Congress.

“Why would I want to stay here?” he said. “To hell with this place.”

A debate on the House floor on Thursday had captured the absurdity and unseemliness of Mr. Santos’s scandals. His use of campaign funds on Botox treatments was invoked several times, even by those defending him. 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, Republican of New York who is Mr. Santos’s closest congressional neighbor and most ardent foe.

Even as criminal charges piled up, Mr. Santos, 35, had seemed poised to outrun accountability, surviving two previous expulsion efforts thanks to the influence of Mr. Johnson and his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy of California.

Mr. Johnson and his entire leadership team voted against expulsion Friday morning. Mr. McCarthy, who was ousted as speaker earlier this fall, did not vote.

They did not want to lose Mr. Santos’s vote or risk losing his seat to a Democrat in a special election. And they voiced what became the core of Mr. Santos’s defense: expelling him before he was convicted or found culpable by the House Ethics Committee would set a dangerous precedent.

But after the committee released a scathing 56-page report last month that cast Mr. Santos’s candidacy as a long-running grift that he exploited for personal profit, the political tides began to turn.

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 Mr. Santos removed from office.

“We followed the Constitution and the way that this was to play out,” Mr. Guest said on Friday as he stood before the House chamber. “And then the members of Congress voted today. I take no pride in what has happened today.”

The territory covered by the ethics report overlaps significantly with the accusations in Mr. Santos’s criminal case. Investigators found “substantial evidence” that Mr. Santos broke federal law. Still, he refused to resign, even as he said he expected to be removed from the House.

His forced departure will leave a fractious Republican conference with an even thinner majority in Congress, exacerbating the challenges the party will face to achieve its legislative agenda.

Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York will have 10 days to announce the date of a special election to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Santos’s departure. The election must take place between 70 and 80 days after she sets the date. Local party leaders generally pick their nominees in special elections.

The Republican Party chairman in Nassau County has been vetting possible candidates for months, while Democratic leaders have privately indicated that they would most likely put forward Thomas R. Suozzi, who held the seat before Mr. Santos but relinquished it to run for governor.

That decision cleared the way for Mr. Santos’s election last year, one of several Republican victories that flipped Democratic districts in New York, helping his party clinch control of the House. His win was also celebrated as a milestone: The son of Brazilian immigrants, Mr. Santos was the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent candidate.

But shortly before he took office, a New York Times investigation found that his rags-to-riches journey from a basement apartment in Queens to the halls of Congress was built on layers of fabrication, exaggeration and omission.

In various campaign biographies, a résumé and interviews, Mr. Santos said he graduated from Baruch College in New York City, where he was a volleyball star on a championship team. He boasted of working at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and amassing personal wealth. He claimed to be descended from Holocaust refugees; that his mother was in the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attacks; and that he lost four employees in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

None of those claims were true.

Mr. Santos is only the sixth member of the House to be expelled in the body’s history. Three representatives were removed in 1861 on charges of treason at the start of the Civil War. Two others were convicted in criminal court before being expelled, one in 1980 and the most recent in 2002.

Mr. Santos must still contend with the federal indictment in which prosecutors have accused him of multiple criminal schemes. In May, prosecutors charged him with wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, stealing public funds and lying on federal disclosure forms.

In October, prosecutors added more charges in a superseding indictment, accusing Mr. Santos of falsifying a $500,000 campaign loan, stealing the identities of donors to his campaign and using their credit card information to transfer money to his personal bank account.

While Mr. Santos’s lies fueled his notoriety and cemented his public reputation as a fraudster, it was larger questions about his finances and campaign practices that sparked the indictments and ethics report.

Much of the speculation surrounding Mr. Santos has been tied to the source of the more than $700,000 he claimed to have lent his political campaign in 2022.

When Mr. Santos first ran for office in 2020, he filed a financial disclosure with the House saying that he was making only $55,000 a year. Two years later, he claimed to be making a $750,000 salary from his own firm, the Devolder Organization.

Mr. Santos said the firm had dividends between $1 million and $5 million, and that he had millions of dollars in savings and a checking account with between $100,000 and $250,000.

In their report, House ethics investigators said those claims were false.

They also detailed how Mr. Santos used money from donors to perpetuate a fabulous and fraudulent lifestyle, documenting campaign spending on designer clothes, luxury hotels, Botox and OnlyFans.

The Ethics Committee found evidence that Mr. Santos had fraudulently reimbursed himself for loans he never made, earning $27,000 in profit during his unsuccessful 2020 campaign.

Federal prosecutors said that Mr. Santos again falsified loans in 2022 in order to make his campaign look more financially robust, reporting a $500,000 donation to his campaign in March that he did not actually make.

The Ethics Committee report said that real money came through months later to fill the hole, but it nonetheless raised questions about whether it was transferred legally.

Mr. Santos and his treasurer, Nancy Marks, have been charged with making up tens of thousands of dollars in donations on campaign finance reports, to give the impression that Mr. Santos’s campaign was attracting significant attention.

Ms. Marks pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States in October and admitted to her role in fraudulently reporting the fictitious loan and donations.

Mr. Santos, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, is due back in court on Dec. 12, and is scheduled to go to trial in September.

Outside his district office in the Douglaston neighborhood of Queens, some of his constituents gathered outside to take selfies and commemorate the moment. One passing motorist offered his thoughts in a decidedly New York fashion.

“Good riddance, you piece of crap,” screamed John Johnson, 60, from his car as he was stopped at a light in front of the office.

“I thought that Republicans would save him,” he added. “But I guess they came to their senses last minute.”

Nicholas Fandos, Catie Edmondson, Luke Broadwater and Olivia Bensimon contributed reporting.

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