House expels GOP Rep. George Santos. It’s just the sixth expulsion in the chamber’s history

By KEVIN FREKING | Associated Press

WASHINGTON  — The House voted on Friday to expel Republican Rep. George Santos of New York after a critical ethics report on his conduct that accused him of converting campaign donations for his own use. He was just the sixth member in the chamber’s history to be ousted by colleagues.

The vote to expel was 311-114. Expulsion requires support from two-thirds of the House, a purposefully high bar, but a blistering House Ethics Committee report that accused Santos of breaking federal law proved decisive.

As it became clear that he would be expelled, Santos placed his overcoat over his shoulders, shook hands with conservative members who voted against his expulsion and departed the House chamber.

Related: The three California Republicans who voted against Santos’ expulsion

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., soon took the gavel, quieted the chamber and solemnly instructed the House clerk to inform the governor of New York that Santos’ former House seat was now vacant.

Santos had fought the expulsion effort, leading his own defense during House floor debate and in conducting a news conference and interviews.

“I will not stand by quietly,” Santos declared as lawmakers on Thursday evening debated his removal. “The people of the Third District of New York sent me here. If they want me out, you’re going to have to go silence those people and go take the hard vote.”

Of the previous expulsions in the House, three were for disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War. The remaining two occurred after the lawmakers were convicted of crimes in federal court. Santos made his case for remaining in office by appealing directly to lawmakers who worry they are setting a new precedent that could make expulsions more common.

Johnson was among those who voiced concerns about removing Santos, though he has told members to vote their conscience. Others in leadership agreed with his reasoning and opposed expulsion. But some Republicans, including Santos’ colleagues from New York, said voters would welcome lawmakers being held to a higher standard.

“I’m pretty confident the American people would applaud that. I’m pretty confident that the American people expect that,” Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, whose district adjoins Santos’, said before the vote.

Santos warned lawmakers they would regret removing a member before they have had their day in court.

“This will haunt them in the future where mere allegations are sufficient to have members removed from office when duly elected by their people in their respective states and districts,” Santos said.

The expulsion was the final congressional chapter in what was a spectacular fall from grace for Santos. The first-term lawmaker initially was celebrated as an up-and-comer after he flipped a district from Democrats last year and helped Republicans win control of the House. But soon after, troubles began. Reports began to emerge that Santos had lied about having Jewish ancestry, a career at top Wall Street firms and a college degree. His presence in the House quickly became a distraction and an embarrassment to the party.

In early March, the House Ethics Committee announced it was launching an investigation into Santos. Then in May, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York indicted Santos, accusing him of duping donors, stealing from his campaign and lying to Congress. Prosecutors would later add more charges in an updated 23-count indictment.