Some Republican members of Congress offered a warning following the vote to expel now-former Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from Congress, cautioning that an expulsion vote of this nature could be used as “political warfare” in the future.
Congress took unprecedented action on Friday and voted to expel Santos, even though he had not been convicted of a crime and had declared his innocence. While there had been prior attempts to expel the controversial congressman, a report from the House Ethics Committee served as the final nail in the coffin, including “evidence Santos knowingly filed false reports with the Federal Election Commission, used campaign funds for personal purposes including subscriptions to OnlyFans and botox treatments, and willfully violated ethics laws as it relates to his Financial Disclosure (FD) Statements filed with the House,” as Breitbart News detailed.
However, some Republicans still believe it was wrong to expel Santos, given that he had not been convicted of a crime. Notably, 105 Republicans voted to expel him, while 112 did not.
“Throughout the history of our nation, neither the House nor Senate has expelled a member that was not convicted for a crime or committed treason,” Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said in a statement following the vote.
While he said he did not condone Santos’s actions and urged him to resign “in light of the evidence against him presented in the Ethics Committee report,” LaMalfa said that he does not believe that Congress should “create a new precedent.”
“Given the merging of politics and justice these days, an expulsion vote could be used as political warfare or to tip the scale in a decision of an ongoing court case,” he warned.
“It seems the sentence is being handed down before the conviction,” he continued. “Congress should follow the precedent of the last 232 years and only vote to expel once a member is convicted of a crime or treason.”
My statement on today's vote: pic.twitter.com/LlLxY99Iov
— Rep. Doug LaMalfa (@RepLaMalfa) December 1, 2023
Republican Rep. French Hill (R-AR) agreed that the vote sets a “dangerous precedent,” even though he personally believes Santos should have resigned.
“I have called on Rep. George Santos to resign since his fraudulent and discrediting conduct and inappropriate actions became public,” French said in a statement.
“Prior to today, the House had voted to expel only five Members of Congress, including only two since 1980 – both of whom were convicted of their crimes before expulsion,” he continued.
“I believe that expelling a Member of Congress before conviction sets a dangerous precedent, which is why today I voted no to expel Rep. Santos,” he added.
I believe that expelling a Member of Congress before conviction sets a dangerous precedent, which is why today I voted no to expel Rep. George Santos.
My full statement, below:https://t.co/miEno3MAZW
— French Hill (@RepFrenchHill) December 1, 2023
Even Rep. Nancy Mace (R-NY), who deemed Santos an “ass,” said he still “deserves the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.”
“Today’s vote was not about accountability, which should have been in the hands of the courts and the people of NY-03,” she wrote.
“This was about shifting the balance of power in Congress, and I won’t play those games,” Mace, who voted nay, added.
Today’s vote was not about accountability, which should have been in the hands of the courts and the people of NY-03. This was about shifting the balance of power in Congress, and I won’t play those games.
— Rep. Nancy Mace (@RepNancyMace) December 1, 2023
Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-OK) also agreed that the allegations against Santos were “abhorrent and unbecoming for a Member of Congress,” but he added, “We should allow the court to pronounce guilt before moving to expulsion, in keeping with precedent.”
“Instead of expulsion at this time, Congressman Santos should have been punished for ‘disorderly behavior’ as stated in the Constitution and subsequently resigned,” he added.
Congressman Santos is now the first member of Congress since the time of the Civil War to be expelled before being convicted of a crime. 1/3
— Congressman Josh Brecheen (@RepBrecheen) December 1, 2023
Instead of expulsion at this time, Congressman Santos should have been punished for “disorderly behavior” as stated in the Constitution and subsequently resigned. 3/3
— Congressman Josh Brecheen (@RepBrecheen) December 1, 2023
“What happened to the presumption of innocence principle?” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) asked.
“The House just expelled a Member without a criminal conviction for the first time since the Civil War! We still don’t know much about Mr. Santos, but his expulsion sets a dangerous precedent,” he added.
What happened to the presumption of innocence principle?
The House just expelled a Member without a criminal conviction for the first time since the Civil War!
We still don't know much about Mr. Santos, but his expulsion sets a dangerous precedent.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 1, 2023
Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI) emphasized that he believes in the principles of “innocent until proven guilty,” although he said the Ethics Committee’s report was “concerning.” However, he said Congress “should not prejudge the outcome when he hasn’t had his day in court.”
It is also concerning that so much attention has been heaped on George Santos when Secretary Alejandro Mayoraks, who has presided over and encouraged the lawless disaster at our southern border, has received not even the slightest of reprimands from Congress or the President.
— Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (@RepFitzgerald) December 1, 2023
“I voted against the resolution to expel Representative George Santos, but the measure garnered at least 2/3’s of the votes in the House and he is now no longer a member of Congress,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) wrote following the vote.
I voted against the resolution to expel Representative George Santos, but the measure garnered at least 2/3’s of the votes in the House and he is now no longer a member of Congress.
The vote was 311 to 114.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 1, 2023