No, expelling George Santos didn’t set a bad precedent

Shortly after the now-ousted George Santos became president, the media presented a trove of evidence that he had lied about nearly every aspect of his private life during the campaign. Santos said she was a star volleyball player, a graduate of Baruch College, an employee of Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, is Jewish, and lost family members in both the Holocaust and 9/11. made a false claim.

Afterwards, Republican campaign officials Admitted Some of this information circulated shortly after Santos clinched the Republican nomination in 2022. They did not pressure him to withdraw because it would mean losing his seat, but were confident that “something would come out about this guy.”

Santos also committed wire fraud, theft of federal funds, making false statements on disclosure documents, falsifying $500,000 in campaign contributions, transferring money from a donor's credit card to a personal bank account, including Botox treatment, Ferragamo shoes, and more. He is facing 23 federal charges for using the drug. And porn.

The vote to expel Santos was 311-114, well above the required two-thirds majority and including 105 Republicans. However, four Republican House leaders voted against expelling Santos: Speaker Mike Johnson, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Minority Leader Tom Emmer, and Conference Speaker Elise Stefanik.

Because the five previously expelled congressmen had all been convicted of federal crimes or supported the Confederacy, Johnson expressed Concerns that a precedent “could be set” and that expulsion could violate “Republican values” and “the rule of law and due process.”Santos deserves to 'have his day in court' first, Scalise declared.

Santos' ouster did not set a bad precedent. It was the best option for his constituents, the House, and the country. Rather than shifting responsibility from Congress to the courts, the bipartisan Ethics Commission requires a two-thirds majority to investigate and convict, making expulsions less frequent, timely, and appropriate.

In defending the Ethics Committee's recommendations, Chairman Michael Guest noted that the Constitution does not require a conviction and gives the House and Senate “the ability to discipline members.” Mr. Guest emphasized that Mr. Santos' conduct was “so egregious that members should consider expelling him.” That's how I vote today. ” Expulsion is “the right and necessary thing to do.” Said “If we're going to insist on being a responsible party,” Republican Rep. Nick Larota said.

Kevin McCarthy, one of the few members of the House who did not vote for the expulsion on December 1st, said much the same thing when he was speaker. In January 2023, Mr. McCarthy said that if the Ethics Commission found that Mr. Santos violated the law, “then we would do so.” eliminate himMcCarthy said in May that he would like the Ethics Commission, a “safe, bipartisan committee, to act.” rapidly” to “Conclusion of what George Santos did and didn’t do.”

But Mr. McCarthy did not express concerns about precedent when he introduced a resolution to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (which only requires a majority vote) on the floor in June.or when house condemned Schiff is accused of using his position as chairman of the Intelligence Committee and Donald Trump's first impeachment manager to “undermine a duly elected president” and endanger national security. He mentioned partisan voting. words of Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna. The notable censure resolution directed the Ethics Commission to investigate Schiff after the incident. Vote.

Johnson also did not mention precedent. announced Republicans have an “obligation” to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden, even though Republican-selected witnesses at an oversight committee hearing testified there was still no evidence that Biden committed a crime. he claimed.

Citing precedent, it seems reasonable to conclude that: good Reasons to oppose Santos' ouster. But several House Republicans have made such statements clear. genuine reason. “Why do we want to expel the man?” Said Rep. Troy Neals, “We have a three- or four-seat majority. What are we doing?'' Rep. Matt Gaetz said, after mentioning precedent and due process. declared, “Here's the math: Now that we've ousted George Santos, we have a three-seat majority.'' With multiple members sick or considering retirement, Republicans are It is possible that the party will lose its majority by the 2024 elections. As such, firing Santos was “tactically very foolish”.

If the Santos spectacle teaches us any lesson, it's that in the People's House, precedent has too often been hijacked by cynical, bipartisan politicians.

Glenn C. Altshuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is co-author of Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century (with Stuart Bumin).

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