Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) may be getting pushed out of Congress, but he’s making it clear that he won’t be leaving quietly.
The embattled lawmaker announced Thursday morning that he will move to force a vote on expelling Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) from the House, just more than a month after the New York Democrat was charged with a misdemeanor for falsely pulling a fire alarm in a House office building ahead of a key vote. He pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor and agreed to pay a fine and write an apology to the Capitol Police.
Santos — who faces 23 federal criminal counts — unveiled his plans during a farewell tour-esque press conference outside the Capitol on Thursday, one day before the House is poised to hold a vote on expelling him after the House Ethics Committee released a damning report on the congressman.
During the early-morning media availability, Santos declined to unpack the allegations against him but lashed out at the Ethics Committee, labeling the panel’s final report “slanderous” and “unprecedented.”
“They go ahead and release this report littered, littered in hyperbole, littered in opinion, that would have — no decent cop would bring this to a prosecutor or a [district attorney] and says here’s our report, go ahead and charge.”
“This is what the Ethics Committee put out,” he continued. “God bless them and what they think they’re doing and what their work is. You know, I believe they do good work when it’s relevant, but this ain’t it.”
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The Ethics Committee found that Santos “violated federal criminal laws” and said he used campaign funds for personal use, including trips, Botox and for purchases from OnlyFans, a subscription platform that is largely used for adult content.
The panel’s report sparked the current push to expel Santos, which could be successful after a wave of lawmakers who backed the embattled congressman in the past now say they are in favor of booting him. The New York Republican already survived two expulsion efforts earlier this year.
On Thursday, Santos once again said he believes the effort to oust him will be successful, pointing to a prediction from Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) — one of the Republicans leading the charge against him — who said 120-150 GOP lawmakers will vote to expel.
“Congressman LaLota said he has 150 votes. So I mean, if he has 150 votes — as he said already, on the record — he has the votes,” he added. “This is just plain and simple.”
But he reiterated that he will not leave on his own volition despite the grim outlook, telling reporters that he will not resign.
“If I leave, they win,” Santos said. “If I leave, the bullies take place. This is bullying.”
Santos said he will call his measure to expel Bowman to the floor as a privileged resolution when the House opens for legislative business at noon, a maneuver that forces the chamber to act on the measure within two legislative days. Leadership, however, will likely hold a procedural vote instead of a referendum on the actual legislation, shielding the chamber from having to weigh in on expelling Bowman directly.
“I think that that’s consistency,” Santos said Thursday morning. “Let’s hold our own accountable, but let’s make sure that we do it with the precedent of the House.”
“Now if the House wants to start [a different] precedent and expel me, that is going to be the undoing of a lot of members of this body, because 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,” he added.
Bowman, who for months has called on Santos to resign, was charged with a misdemeanor last month after he pulled the fire alarm during a vote to fund the government.
He called Santos’s expulsion effort “meaningless.”
“No one in Congress, or anywhere in America, takes soon-to-be former Congressman George Santos seriously. This is just another meaningless stunt in his long history of cons, antics, and outright fraud,” he said in a statement.
Bowman has said he pulled the alarm by mistake when he was rushing to get to the House chamber before a high-stakes vote closed. Republicans, however, accused him of pulling the alarm on purpose to delay the vote.
Bowman’s office said he made an agreement with the D.C. attorney general to withdraw the charge in three months if he writes an apology to the Capitol Police and pays a $1,000 fine.
Last week, the House Ethics Committee announced it would not launch an investigation into the Bowman incident. Santos reacted to that determination, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter: “I’m just going to leave this here and let the people draw their own conclusions…”
Santos and Bowman have clashed in the past. In May, after the House voted to refer a Santos expulsion resolution to the Ethics Committee, Santos was addressing the press on the steps of the Capitol when Bowman and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) began yelling for him to leave Congress.
“Resign. … Save yourself, have some dignity,” Bowman said. “New Yorkers need better.”
“Republicans, kick him out. C’mon,” Bowman added.
Santos’s push to expel Bowman is unlikely to be his last act before leaving Congress. On Thursday, the embattled New York Republican said he “will be filing a slew of complaints in the coming hours of today and tomorrow to make sure that we keep the playing field even.”
“Because at this point, I have been nothing but generous and kind with my time. I have not raised my voice or a single finger against a single other member of this body, but now I guess it’s fair game to continue to do that,” he added.
Updated at 9:16 a.m. ET