“If you come for me, you best not miss.”
That was the message New York Republican Rep. George Santos wanted the public to know after decisively surviving a fraught Wednesday evening vote to expel him from Congress, led by members of his own party. At least, that was the message he wanted his X (formerly Twitter) followers to hear for about an hour or so, before the embattled congressman deleted a picture of himself wearing a crooked crown, and replaced the post with a similar, if slightly less bombastic ode to constitutional due process and his sense of personal virtue.
George Santos’ deleted his tweet reacting to the defeat of a resolution to expel him and replaced it with one key difference. It’s subtle but see if you can spot it: pic.twitter.com/7N0TztvWxONovember 2, 2023
That Santos remains a member of Congress this week may be surprising to some, given the growing list of criminal charges, demonstrative falsehoods, and still-unanswered questions that have dogged the lawmaker almost from the moment he was sworn into office. That his survival of Wednesday’s expulsion effort was as decisive as it was — thanks in no small part to a number of Democrats who voted not to oust their adversarial colleague — may be even more surprising, still.
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No matter what relief and vindication Santos may have felt after Wednesday’s vote, however, it’s unlikely to last; He still faces a host of criminal charges, a congressional ethics investigation, and the intense opprobrium of his Republican peers. So how did Santos survive his expulsion vote, and where does he go from here?
‘A new precedent’Unlike an earlier Democrat-led effort to expel Santos in the spring, Wednesday’s vote was the work of “his fellow New York Republicans, who are anxious to distance themselves” from the electoral radioactivity of Santos’ alleged crimes and lies, the Associated Press reported. The privileged motion to force Wednesday’s vote was filed by New York Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R) who was “flanked on the House floor by Reps. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) and Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) – all from districts President Biden won in 2020,” according to Axios, which noted the “significant political liability” for Republicans associated with the embattled lawmaker. Even unsuccessful, the expulsion push represents a potential “re-election boost to the vulnerable New York Republicans,” The Daily Beast reported, pointing toward D’Esposito fundraising off his role in the vote.
the expulsion vote up this week. D’Esposito is fundraising off of it. pic.twitter.com/xP1N7r6shxOctober 30, 2023
Electoral posturing and proximal fallout notwithstanding, Santos’ survival this week is in no small part a byproduct of forces well beyond his control: the barely-there Republican House majority — a reality acknowledged by newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La) in a Fox News interview last week. Speaking with Sean Hannity, Johnson “avoided talking about censuring or expelling representatives” specifically, the Washington Examiner reported, but acknowledged that the GOP’s four-seat majority “may be reduced even more in the coming weeks and months” and with “no margin for error” Santos is ultimately deserving of his due process in both court and through the House ethics investigation.
Nevertheless, Santos’ case calls for “a new precedent that holds members accountable” for election lies, D’Esposito said in a statement.
‘Hangs like an albatross around the necks of every single Republican’While 24 Republicans voted to expel Santos, 31 Democrats cast their ballots to at least temporarily save the congressman, “even as their party has been unified in calling for his resignation,” The New York Times reported, prompting Santos to lament that “more Democrats believe in the rule of law and the presumption of innocence” than his GOP colleagues.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) struck a similar tone in a statement after voting against ejecting Santos, explaining that as “a Constitution guy” he felt it would be a “terrible precedent to set, expelling people who have not been convicted of a crime and without internal due process.” Raskin also urged House Republicans to act after the body’s Ethics Committee releases plans for “next steps” in its Santos investigation on Nov. 17.
New York Rep. Dan Goldman, the only Democrat to speak during the debate over Wednesday’s vote, lambasted Republicans for rejecting Santos’ ouster this spring, and only supporting it now, when the congressman “hangs like an albatross around the necks of every single Republican from New York” ahead of the 2024 election.
Rep. George Santos (R-NY) yields time to Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY):“Thank you very much, Mr. Santos. *2 seconds later* I rise today in support of this resolution to expel George Santos from Congress.” pic.twitter.com/xvqKsMwQUtNovember 1, 2023
Santos, meanwhile, spent Thursday morning attacking Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ala.) after Womack joked that the House had seen its shadow, portending “two more weeks of Santos.”
Your son is a felon. He has been in and out of the prison system for years. He is a drug dealer, poisoning people on the streets with meth and unlawful possession of a gun. Instead of being home, taking care of your son, you’re sitting pretty in the swamp. Listen, I have been… https://t.co/vrJZonIpoMNovember 2, 2023