Rep.-elect George Santos of New York is scheduled to be sworn in to Congress on Tuesday as he faces mounting scrutiny and condemnation over lies about his biography and amid an investigation by federal prosecutors into his finances.
More on the House speaker vote
All incoming members of the 118th Congress are scheduled to be sworn in following the vote for House speaker at the US Capitol, which is set to begin after noon ET on Tuesday.
Some Democrats have called on Santos to step aside after the Republican admitted to fabricating parts of his resume, including his work experience and education. A few Republicans have also rebuked Santos, and at least one of his fellow incoming House Republicans from New York called for him to face an ethics investigation.
Santos faces questions about other key parts of his biography – including a claim that has been contradicted that his grandparents survived the Holocaust – and over loans totaling more than $700,000 that he made to his 2022 campaign. The federal probe into his finances, which CNN reported on last week, is being undertaken by the US attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York.
Santos is also likely to face fraud charges in Brazil.
Santos’ FEC reports contain a number of unusual expenditures, including exorbitant expenses on air travel and hotels.
“Campaign expenditures for staff members including travel, lodging, and meals are normal expenses of any competent campaign. The suggestion that the Santos campaign engaged in any unlawful spending of campaign funds is irresponsible, at best,” Joe Murray, a lawyer for Santos, said in a statement to CNN on Saturday.
GOP leadership silent
House Republican leadership has remained silent on Santos and Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy has dodged questions from CNN and others on the issue. It is unlikely House GOP leadership will refuse to seat Santos on Tuesday, and Santos has said he intends to serve in Congress.
One veteran Republican lawmaker, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, said Sunday on Fox News that Santos is “certainly going to have to consider resigning,” in the wake of the revelations, which were first reported by The New York Times last month. At least two Democrats – Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas and Ted Lieu of California – have called for Santos to be expelled from Congress if he does not resign. The House has the power under the Constitution to expel any member with a two-thirds vote, but doing so is extremely rare and only five lawmakers have been expelled in US history.
Santos has apologized for some of the lies but has attempted to downplay the scope of the fabrications, arguing last week he only put “a little bit of fluff” in his resume.
He admitted to lying about working for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and said he did not graduate from any college or university despite claiming he obtained degrees from Baruch College and New York University. Santos’ claims that his grandparents “survived the Holocaust” as Ukrainian Jewish refugees from Belgium have been contradicted by sources reviewed by CNN’s KFile, including records on Jewish refugees and interviews with multiple genealogists. Santos has described himself as an “American Jew” and “Latino Jew” on multiple occasions, but now says he is Catholic and that he was only jokingly describing himself as “Jew-ish.” The Republican Jewish Coalition barred Santos from appearing at any of its events because he “misrepresented his heritage.”
CNN’s KFile has reported on several other false claims Santos has made, including that he was forced to leave a New York City private school when his family’s real estate assets took a downturn. In December 2020, Santos falsely claimed that his mother “fled socialism” in Europe and moved to the United States.
Brazilian authorities intend to revive fraud case
Law enforcement officials in Brazil will reinstate fraud charges against Santos later this week, the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office tells CNN.
Prosecutors said they will seek a “formal response” from Santos related to a stolen checkbook in 2008, after police suspended an investigation into him because they were unable to find him for nearly a decade.
CNN previously confirmed that Santos was charged with embezzlement in a Brazilian court in 2011, according to case records from the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice. However, court records from 2013 state that the charge was archived after court summons went unanswered and they were unable to locate Santos.
CNN has reached out to a lawyer for Santos for comment. The reinstatement of the fraud charges was first reported by The New York Times.
In an interview with the New York Post last week, Santos denied that he had been charged with any crime in Brazil, saying: “I am not a criminal here – not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world. Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.”