What Comes Next for George Santos?

From a New York Times story by Rebecca Davis O’Brien headlined “What Comes Next for George Santos?”:

The day after Representative George Santos was charged with wire fraud and money laundering as part of a 13-count federal indictment, he was free to go back to work as a freshman Republican congressman from Long Island. Mr. Santos, who pleaded not guilty, can still vote in the House, and he can still raise money to run for re-election.

In other words, there were few tangible, immediate consequences for Mr. Santos as a result of his indictment.

But that could change in the weeks to come.

Will George Santos be removed from Congress?

Being indicted does not, on its own, lead to removal from office. Several House Republicans have called for him to step down, but party leadership has made it clear that they will let the judicial process play out. And the slim Republican majority means they need his vote.

A resolution to expel Mr. Santos from Congress would need two thirds of House members to vote for it in order to pass, meaning Republicans would have to join Democrats.

If he is convicted of any of the charges, whether at trial or through a plea, his role would be severely circumscribed under House rules, and he would likely be compelled to resign. (He would also likely face federal prison time: the top count carries a 20-year maximum term.) But federal criminal cases can take a long time, and such an outcome for Mr. Santos is likely at least months away.

What can he do in the meantime?

Not very much. On Capitol Hill, Mr. Santos was already something of a pariah even before his indictment. He withdrew from his committees months ago, after the depth of his deceptions became known. He has generally been held at arm’s length, even by his Republican peers.

One thing he can do is run for re-election, which he has said he still plans to do. But on Wednesday, Ed Cox, the chairman of the state G.O.P., said that local Republicans would likely force him out through the primary. “He’s out, no matter how you do it, because we have a good party in Nassau County,” Mr. Cox said in an interview.

What is next for the criminal case?

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday indicated that their investigation was ongoing: The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn is working alongside the Department of Justice’s public integrity section in Washington, the F.B.I., the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, and the criminal investigation arm of the Internal Revenue Service.

The grand jury that voted to charge Mr. Santos will continue to meet and hear witness testimony. Prosecutors could bring additional charges against him, and even charge other people, since there are still a lot of unanswered questions about his background and the financing of his 2022 campaign.

Mr. Santos is due back in federal court on June 30 for a hearing on the case, where it is possible prosecutors will reveal more about the evidence they have gathered so far, and whether they anticipate adding new charges.

It is clear, from the charging documents, that they had access to bank records and several witnesses, including donors and a former associate.

Anything else?

With Mr. Santos, it seems there is always something else. On Thursday, Brazilian law enforcement authorities are holding a hearing on a check fraud case against Mr. Santos, stemming from a 2008 incident in which he was accused of stealing a checkbook from a man his mother, a nurse, had cared for.

The criminal case in Brazil was first disclosed in a New York Times investigation that uncovered broad discrepancies in his résumé and questions about his financial dealings. That investigation also helped lead to the charges against Mr. Santos this week.

Mr. Santos also faces a House Ethics Committee investigation, which started in March, into his campaign finance expenditures, business practices, and other matters.

Rebecca Davis O’Brien covers campaign finance and money in U.S. elections for The New York Times. She previously covered federal law enforcement, courts and criminal justice on the Metro desk.

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