OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Several House Republicans have issued a warning to colleagues after the chamber voted on Friday to expel one of their own, now-former New York Rep. George Santos after he was charged with several felonies by the Justice Department related to his campaign activities in 2022.
With a vote of 311 to 114, the House went above and beyond the two-thirds necessary to remove Santos. There were two abstentions and two present votes among Democrats in favor of the measure, while 104 Republicans were in favor of it.
House Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest (R-Miss.) sponsored the expulsion bill after his panel released a report that found “significant evidence” of Santos’ criminal wrongdoing, Politico reported.
In a video posted to his social media, Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) noted following the vote that in the history of the U.S. Congress, only five members had been expelled, “three of which had fought for the Confederacy or were expelled in 1861, and the other two who had been convicted, not accused or indicted, but convicted of actual criminality.”
The bottom line is today’s unprecedented action taken by the House could influence and endanger George Santos’ right to a fair trial by playing judge, jury, and executioner.
Click here to listen to my full statement on the expulsion of Rep. Santos. pic.twitter.com/ofR4HvHQ91
— Rep. Cory Mills 🇺🇸 (@RepMillsPress) December 1, 2023
He noted further: “We set a very dangerous precedent in America when this institution is allowed to expel and play judge, juror, and executioner on someone who had not had yet their constitutional right to have their day in court to approach their accusers before a jury of their peers.”
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) expressed a very similar sentiment on the X platform as well.
“What happened to the presumption of innocence principle?” he wondered, adding that Santos’s “expulsion sets a dangerous precedent.”
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) added as well: “What about Santos warranted departing from 234 years of the precedent that expulsion from Congress for alleged criminal acts follows conviction? I couldn’t identify anything.”
Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) wrote: “Removing a sitting member of Congress who has yet to be convicted of any crimes sets a dangerous precedent. New York’s Third Congressional District elected Mr. Santos. They should be the judge on removing him.”
As the vote came to a close, the Republican from New York told reporters: “It’s over. They have just established a harmful new standard for themselves. Additional comment was declined by him.
“As unofficially already no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer a single question. That is the one thing that I’m going to take forever,” Santos said.
Even though all four top GOP House leaders opposed the measure at the last minute, which weakened Republican support for the measure, the motion still passed with a comfortable margin.
In November, Santos announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection following the release of a highly damning House Ethics Committee finding involving potential criminal behavior.
“Chairman Guest feels that the evidence uncovered in the Committee’s investigation is more than sufficient to warrant punishment and that the most appropriate punishment is expulsion,” Republican Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest’s personal office told Fox News on Thursday.
“So, separate from the committee process and his role as chairman, he plans to file an expulsion resolution during tomorrow’s 9:00 a.m. pro forma session.”
The committee’s report said that Santos “knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission; used campaign funds for personal purposes; engaged in fraudulent conduct in connection with RedStone Strategies LLC; and knew and willfully violated the Ethics in Government Act as it related to his Financial Disclosure (FD) Statements filed with the House.”
The panel found that includes $50,000 in campaign donations wired to the congressman’s personal account on Oct. 21, 2022, that was allegedly used, among other things, to “pay down personal credit card bills and other debt; make a $4,127.80 purchase at Hermes; and for smaller purchases at OnlyFans; Sephora; and for meals and for parking.”