Johnson says he has ‘real reservations’ about ousting Santos as GOP support grows for ousting New York congressman

Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday expressed “real reservations” about expelling Rep. Jorge Santos from the House because the New York Republican has yet to be convicted of a felony — making him the sixth member of the chamber ever to receive GOP support. should be formally ousted from his seat in the face of egregious allegations of his conduct.

Santos has survived previous attempts to remove him from the House, but is building momentum for the latest attempt after a damning report emerged. House Ethics Committee Earlier this month, he concluded that he “attempted to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own financial gain.”

The renewed push to oust Santos presents a leadership test for the newly elected speaker.

As Republicans weigh how to vote, the ethics probe’s findings warrant a congressional ouster, but others have raised concerns about due process because Santos has not been convicted in court.

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If he is ousted, Santos will be the first councilor The member should be dismissed without being punished or supporting the Confederacy. House Republicans also control a very narrow majority, and expulsions would narrow that further.

“We’re not voting and we won’t,” Johnson said Wednesday morning. “I hope people make that decision thoughtfully and in good faith. Personally I have real reservations about doing this, I’m worried about a precedent that might be set.

Johnson’s comment that he has “reservations” does not provide political cover for members to vote in favor of expulsion, making it difficult for some Republicans to support such a move.

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Representative of the New York Republican Party. Nick LaLotta had initially predicted up to 150 GOP votes to oust Santos this week, but later appeared to back off, indicating instead that the vote “could be close” based on what he heard from members.

“People are saying different things that they think the counting is over. “I’ve talked to a decent number of people and I think we’ll get to two-thirds, but it might be close,” Lalotta told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

When asked about Johnson’s comments, Lalotta praised the speaker for running the office in a “member-driven, bottom-up” manner.

Expulsion of only one lawmaker and five members of the House is a more severe punishment Ever been expelled from the room. It is extremely rare and requires a two-thirds majority vote to win – a high bar to clear.

Santos He announced that he would not run for re-election Following the publication of the ethics report, however, he said he would not resign and denounced the congressional inquiry and its report as “a disgusting politicized scandal”.

Separately, there is Santos Innocent 23 Federal ChargesAllegations of fraud related to Covid-19 unemployment benefits, including misappropriation of campaign funds and lying about his personal finances in House disclosure statements.

A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that the House will vote on the expulsion resolution on Friday.

Eighteen Republicans who previously did not support ousting Santos have now indicated they will vote to oust him in the wake of the ethics investigation, though it remains unclear whether Congress will get enough votes to oust him.

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Illinois’ GOP Rep. Mike Post noted that he was leaning toward voting for the ouster, but would prefer Santos to resign. “I want him to resign on his own,” he said. “Most people who get in this situation — remember, we’ve only done it five times — and I do, but most people realize at this point that it’s really important that he focuses on his legal stuff and everything like that.”

Representative from Texas Republican Party. Roger Williams said he was leaning against voting to expel Santos, noting that he had serious reservations about voting to remove a fellow member. “I don’t know if it’s my decision whether he stays or not, but right now, I’m voting not to expel him,” she said. “I don’t think we’re setting a good example if we can pick and choose who comes and who stays. I don’t agree with the accusations against him, but at the same time it’s not our job in Congress to decide who’s a congressman in certain states or certain districts. I don’t like that idea. .”

However, some members of the convention still have reservations about expelling a member before he or she is charged.

Conservative GOP Rep. Ralph Norman told CNN he plans to vote to oust Santos “absolutely not.” “Let his voters deal with it. What George Santos did for his people in his district got him elected. Let them deal with it,” he said.

He added that although some members were pushing for Santos’ ouster, he did not believe they would be able to get the votes. “I don’t think they can get 270-some votes. If they do, we’ll see.

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Another House Republican is an Indiana representative. Victoria Sports said she is “still not sure” how she will vote because Santos has not been convicted of a crime and she has concerns about how the House Ethics Committee has handled their investigation. “I’m still not sure. I’m going to look at the report, because it has to be very — he hasn’t gone through the court system yet, and it has to be very rare circumstances. [where] Something like that [is] Done, so I’m going to check,” she said.

“There’s even some [the] The chairman of the committee they kind of went into a fast-tracked process, and I don’t like that, so I’m going to take a serious look at that because I think we’re going to set a very serious precedent,” Spartz added. “I am a great believer in due process, and sometimes I defend even the most difficult ideas to defend.”

CNN’s Haley Talbot, Melanie Zanona and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

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