NEW YORK — Expulsion wouldn’t derail Rep. George Santos.
The Long Island Republican, facing federal fraud charges, signaled he will run again for his House seat next year if lawmakers successfully expel him from office.
Santos pointed to his own victory last year for a House district won by President Joe Biden in 2020 as a sign of his political strength.
“Could I have won the general election last time? Nobody said I could. But I survived,” Santos told CNN in an interview set to air Sunday.
But that victory came before a flood of scrutiny for Santos. Soon after he won, broad swaths of his biography were found to have been fabricated. But the lawmaker has insisted voters would look past his fraudulent claims.
“People elected me because I said I’d come here to fight the swamp, I’d come here to lower inflation, create more jobs, make life more affordable, and the Commitment to America. That’s why people voted for anybody,” he said. “To say that they voted based on anybody’s biography, I can beg you this. Nobody knew my biography. Nobody opened my biography who voted for me in the campaign.”
Democrats are eagerly eyeing Santos’ district as a potential pickup opportunity next year as they look to re-gain power in the narrowly divided House. Republicans were able to flip a handful of seats — including pivotal districts in New York like Santos’ — that enabled them to win a razor-thin majority. And there’s plenty of candidates ready to run if Santos is ousted.
And beyond biography, Santos’ legal troubles have mounted.
Federal prosecutors in a 23-count superseding indictment in October accused Santos of stealing credit card information of donors and family members in order to inflate his contributions and loans so he could reach benchmarks for support from national Republicans. He has pleaded not guilty.
Santos’ fellow New York Republicans, meanwhile, want him gone and backed the effort to remove him from office. There is still a House ethics panel investigation of Santos that is being conducted.
An effort backed by his fellow New York Republicans to remove him from office failed to pass in the House earlier this week. The expulsion measure was backed by GOP freshman who have increasingly viewed Santos as an albatross for their own reelection bids next year in what will be pivotal for control of the narrowly divided House. They expected to try again after the ethics panel review is finished.
“I believe we’ll see George Santos in handcuffs standing in front of a judge,” Central New York-area Rep. Brandon Williams told reporters in a virtual news conference Friday. “I believe he has no place in Congress.”