Judge, Jury and Executioner? How the United States House of Representatives Attempted to Expel George Santos

by | Nov 8, 2023 | Opinion

By Tim Sharp

On Wednesday November 1, 2023 a floor vote was taken to expel freshman New York lawmaker George Santos. The vote would have required 2/3 of house members to agree and failed by a margin of over 100 votes. It is incredibly important to note in this instance that George Santos has been convicted of 0 crimes.  

Rep. George Santos via CBS News on YouTube, screenshot

Santos faces 23 felony counts of crimes including wire fraud, credit card fraud, aggravated identity theft and falsifying records. His criminal trial is scheduled for September 2024, which is less than 2 months before election day.  Santos has plead not guilty to the charges and has refused to resign from his elected office.  

I spoke with a senior member of Santos staff earlier in the day on November 1st, and his concerns were not specifically about George Santos.  He assured me that Santos was not running away and was standing tough and facing down his accusers.  His concerns were specifically about due process and the presumption of innocence. This particular staffer was also concerned with the terrible precedent that this could have potentially set. He stated that should this effort succeed “anyone could be expelled for any reason”.  

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Santos was somewhat of a surprise winner during the 2022 cycle. It would be easy to correctly argue that it is the role of voters to remove a representative that they were not happy with, however in America presumption of innocence must prevail in all legal issues.   Should New York voters be unhappy with Santos as their representative, they have a perfectly viable way to remove him via election. It is worth noting that only five lawmakers have been expelled from the House in its history, three of whom were booted for being disloyal to the Union during the Civil War.  

It would be easy to assume that this was a partisan move, made by Democrats, in an effort to reclaim a recently lost seat in a swing district.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  A group of New York Republican freshmen, led by Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, forced the vote amid fears that they could pay a political price in 2024 if they didn’t sideline him. These New York Republicans appear to  think that their opinion matters more than the opinion of New York voters.  

This was not attack from radical Democrats.  In fact, thirty-one Democrats voted against expelling Santos, more than the 24 Republicans who voted to expel him.  I recently spoke with a founding member of the LGBT Activist organization Gays for Trump, who questioned if George Santos was creating an image problem on the Hill for traditional establishment Republicans.  Santos is the first openly gay Republican elected to congress.  

We have seen a weaponized judicial system target conservatives across the country simply for holding a set of beliefs.  It appears that George Santos is battling both a weaponized judicial branch as well as a weaponized legislative branch.  Ultimately had George Santos been removed from Congress, it would have been the constituents of NY-03 that lost, not George Santos himself.  American voters bear the weight of both selecting and removing members of Congress until terms limits are applied. The case of George Santos should be no different than any other Representative. 

Follow Tim Sharp on X at @realtimsharp.

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