Representative-elect George Santos of New York is due to be sworn in to Congress on Tuesday as he faces mounting scrutiny and condemnation for lies about his biography and amid an investigation by federal prosecutors into his finances.
All new members of the 118th Congress must be sworn in after the House Speaker’s vote at the United States Capitol, which is expected to begin Tuesday afternoon ET.
Some Democrats called on Santos to step down after the Republican admitted fabricating parts of his resume, including his work experience and education. A few Republicans have also berated Santos, and at least one of his fellow Republicans in the New York House has 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 loans totaling more than $700,000 that he granted to his 2022 campaign. The federal investigation into his finances, reported on by CNN last week, is being led by the U.S. 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 expenses, including exorbitant expenses for air travel and hotels.
“Campaign expenses for staff members, including travel, accommodation and meals, are normal expenses of any competent campaign. The suggestion that the Santos campaign has engaged in illegal spending of campaign funds is irresponsible at best,” Santos attorney Joe Murray said in a statement to CNN on Saturday.
The House Republican leadership remained silent on Santos, and Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy dodged questions from CNN and others on the issue. House GOP leaders are unlikely to refuse to elect Santos on Tuesday, and Santos has said he intends to serve in Congress.
A veteran Republican lawmaker, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, told Fox News on Sunday that Santos is “definitely going to have to consider resigning,” following the revelations, which were first reported by The New York Times last month. last. At least two Democrats – Representatives Joaquin Castro of Texas and Ted Lieu of California – have called for Santos to be kicked out of Congress if he does not resign. The House has the power under the Constitution to expel any member with a two-thirds vote, but this is extremely rare and only five lawmakers have been expelled in US history.
Santos apologized for some of the lies but tried to play down the scope of the fabrications, saying that last week he put “only a little fluff” into his CV.
He admitted to lying about working for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and said he had not graduated from any college or university, although he claimed to have obtained degrees from Baruch College and the University from New York. 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 files on Jewish refugees and interviews with several genealogists. Santos has repeatedly described himself as an “American Jew” and a “Latino Jew,” but now says he is Catholic and only jokingly described himself as “Jewish.” The Republican Jewish Coalition banned Santos from appearing at any of its events because he “misrepresented his heritage.”
CNN’s KFile reported several other false claims made by Santos, including that he was forced to leave a private school in New York when his family’s real estate assets plummeted. In December 2020, Santos falsely claimed that his mother had “fleed socialism” in Europe and moved to the United States.
Law enforcement officials in Brazil will reinstate fraud charges against Santos later this week, the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office told CNN.
Prosecutors said they would seek a “formal response” from Santos regarding a stolen checkbook in 2008, after police suspended an investigation into him because they could not find him for nearly a decade.
CNN previously confirmed that Santos was charged with embezzlement by a Brazilian court in 2011, according to Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice records. However, court records from 2013 indicate that the prosecution was filed after court summonses went unanswered and they were unable to locate Santos.
CNN has reached out to a Santos attorney 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 being charged with any crime in Brazil, saying: “I am not a criminal here – not here or in Brazil or in any jurisdiction in the world. Absolutely. No. This did not happen.