What you should know about Congressman George Santos’ charges and arrest

“He is a pathological liar and lawbreaker who lied to the voters of New York State and defrauded his way into he United States Congress.” – U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-NY.

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Disgraced U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-NY, faces a slew of charges following his arrest in New York for allegedly weaving a trail of lies and deceit for years. 

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice unsealed a 13-count indictment against the Republican congressman. Santos was charged with two counts of making materially false statements to the United States House of Representatives, seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, and one count of theft of public funds.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 04: U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) walks through the crowd gathered outside the courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump will arrive later in the day for his arraignment on April 4, 2023 in New York City. With his indictment, Trump will become the first former U.S. president in history to be charged with a criminal offense. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations,” said Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement issued by the DOJ.

Peace said Santos relied on “dishonesty and deception” to weasel his way into Congress. 

She continued, “He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic and lied to the House of Representatives.”

The Justice Department alleges the 34-year-old freshman politician, sworn into Congress in January, engaged in several acts of fraud from 2020 to 2023. Santos was arraigned on Wednesday afternoon and pled not guilty. 

Prosecutors allege that in September 2022, months before he was elected to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District, Santos duped supporters into donating thousands of dollars to his congressional campaign, which he then used to fund personal affairs.  

The DOJ also claims the congressman purposely misled the House of Representatives by failing to accurately disclose his finances. Santos grossly overstated his salary in 2020 and left out earnings received in 2021 from an investment firm he owned. 

Following the news that Santos would face federal charges, many congressional members voiced their disdain and demanded that he be held accountable.

House Minority Leader, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY, took to Twitter Wednesday morning and wrote, “The party of George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene cannot be trusted to govern. Not now. Not ever.”

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-NY, who has publicly criticized Santos in the past, said that his arrest “is long overdue.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 10: Rep. George Santos (R-NY) walks to a closed-door GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol January 10, 2023 in Washington, DC. House Republicans passed their first bill of the 118th Congress on Monday night, voting along party lines to cut $71 billion from the Internal Revenue Service, which Senate Democrats said they would not take up. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“He is a pathological liar and lawbreaker who lied to the voters of New York State and defrauded his way into he United States Congress,” said Torres.

The Democratic congressman demanded that Santos either resign “or House Republican leadership…join House Democrats in expelling him.”

U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia, D-CA, issued a statement Tuesday evening demanding that Santos leave his congressional post either by resignation or expulsion.

Earlier this year, Garcia introduced a bill that gained the support of more than 40 congressional members who wanted to see Santos expelled.  

Garcia urged Republican House Speaker, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., “to get serious and move our bill forward in the Ethics Committee and then to the full House instead of staying silent as an indicted liar remains in his caucus.”

Despite months-long calls for Santos’ resignation from both sides of the political aisle, McCarthy refused to condemn Santos or use his authority to call for his removal from office.

If convicted, Santos could face a maximum of 20 years behind bars. In the meantime, the Republican congressman will maintain his position on Capitol Hill pending litigation. 

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