Santos to run for reelection even if expelled and downplays past lies

Originally Published: 03 NOV 23 12:43 ET
Updated: 03 NOV 23 14:29 ET

Editor’s note: Watch CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju’s interview with GOP Rep. George Santos this Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT on CNN’s “Inside Politics.”

(CNN) — Indicted Rep. George Santos says he plans to run for his seat in 2024 even if he’s expelled from Congress and insisted that fabricating large parts of his life story would not have any impact on voters next year.

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Manu Raju on Friday, Santos, a New York Republican, argued that his constituents didn’t vote for him based on his biography and said he would “absolutely” run in 2024 if he is expelled – something that could happen as soon as this month if the House Ethics committee recommends the chamber take such a dramatic step.

Santos, who is under investigation by the Ethics Committee, has pleaded not guilty to 23 federal charges, including seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. A superseding indictment filed last month provided new and damaging details about Santos’ alleged efforts to personally profit through his campaign.

Adding to the congressman’s mounting legal issues, Santos’ former campaign treasurer Nancy Marks pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. In court, Marks said she and Santos knowingly filled out federal documents with false claims and information.

During the interview, Santos defended himself, arguing he has done nothing wrong despite the evidence accumulated by federal prosecutors. He also dismissed concerns that voters may have about lying about his past, something he has acknowledged in the past and did so again on Friday.

“Nobody knew my biography. Nobody opened my biography who voted for me in the campaign,” he said.

Referring to past misrepresentations about his background, Santos said, “Nobody elected me because I played volleyball or not. Nobody elected me because I graduated college or not.  People elected me because I said I’d come here to fight the swamp, I’d come here to lower inflation, create more jobs, make life more affordable, and the commitment to America,” he said.

Santos has previously admitted to lying about parts of his resume, including graduating from college. CNN’s KFILE has reported that while Santos’ biography has at times listed an education at Baruch College, a spokesperson said the college could not find a record of anyone with his name or birthday ever attending the school. Santos has also falsely claimed to be a member of the Baruch volleyball team.

A resolution to expel Santos came up short of the required two-thirds majority vote in the House this week, but backers of the measure have said they will press for a future expulsion vote.

But the New York Republican said he believes he could win a primary and projected confidence for his prospects in a general election in the swing district he represents. “Look, could I have won the general election last time? Nobody said I could,” he said. “Elections are tricky. There’s no predetermined outcome.”

On Thursday, New York Republicans expressed confidence that House Republican holdouts will ultimately vote to expel Santos after the committee releases its report.

“At the end of the day. I suspect the ethics report will prove and suggest that he is as bad as we think he is,” Rep. Marc Molinaro said. “There just isn’t room for that kind of nonsense here anymore.”

“If the report says what I think we all know, and most of it he’s already admitted to, I don’t think that there will be any discussion as to why he shouldn’t be expelled,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito said.

CNN’s Devan Cole and Greg Krieg contributed to this report.

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