Embattled GOP Rep. George Santos continued his refusal to resign one day ahead of an expulsion vote, instead arguing that he is being bullied in the wake of a scathing ethics report on his conduct, CNN reported.
Speaking on Thursday at a news conference outside the Capitol, Santos remained defiant as he lashed out at other members of Congress. Pressed on why he won’t resign, Santos said, “Because if I leave, they win. If I leave, the bullies take place. This is bullying.”
Santos said two weeks ago he will not seek reelection in 2024 after the House Ethics Committee released a scathing report that concluded there is “substantial evidence” the New York Republican “violated federal criminal laws,” including using campaign funds for personal purposes and filing false campaign reports.
He disputed the report’s contention that he did not meaningfully work with the investigation, saying, “I cooperated.”
“I provided them, every single document for the most part that they went off came from my counsel,” he said. He later added, “I am not unpacking the report. It is counterproductive for me to do so at this time. There will be a time that I will unpack it entirely and go line by line.”
Santos has survived previous attempts to remove him from the House, but momentum is building for the latest effort after the release of the report from the House Ethics Committee.
Santos said on Thursday that if the House expels him, it will set a dangerous precedent, adding that he doesn’t know if the vote will succeed.
He already faces a 13-count federal indictment centered on charges of money laundering and lying to Congress in an earlier financial disclosure. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A New York prosecutor launched an investigation against Santos in late December of last year after he admitted to "embellishing" his resume.
Santos has also come under fire for falsely claiming to have Jewish heritage. The Forward had questioned a claim on Santos’ campaign website that his grandparents “fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII.”
In another story, the site noted that he had called himself a "proud American Jew" in a position paper that was shared with Jewish and pro-Israel leaders during his campaign.
Santos later maintained that he still identifies as “Jew-ish” despite reports showing that his grandparents were Catholics born in Brazil.
Expulsion is the most severe form of punishment for a lawmaker in the House and only five members have ever been expelled from the chamber. It requires a two-thirds majority vote to succeed – a high bar to clear.