House expels GOP Rep. George Santos over ethics violations

By Aditi Sangal and Shania Shelton, CNN

Updated 2302 GMT (0702 HKT) December 1, 2023
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5:00 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

Now that Santos has been expelled, here's what is expected to happen next to his House seat 

From CNN's Haley Talbot and Kristin Wilson

Rep. George Santos leaves the US Capitol after the House voted to expel him from Congress on December 1.
Rep. George Santos leaves the US Capitol after the House voted to expel him from Congress on December 1. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

With the vote Friday in the House of Representatives to expel New York GOP Rep. George Santos from the chamber, these are the next steps expected to take place in Congress and New York state:

In Congress: According to a former House parliamentarian, an expulsion is handled the same as a vacancy, including death or resignation. The House Clerk assumes control of the office and makes decisions on behalf of that office. It will decide how Santos’ office is cleared out, among other steps. His district office remains intact for constituent needs. 

Special election looms in New York: The House Clerk informs the governor of New York that there is now a vacancy in the third district of New York. It is then up to Gov. Kathy Hochul to schedule a special election to replace him. New York State law stipulates that the governor make a proclamation of a special election within 10 days, with an election occurring “not less than seventy nor more than eighty days” following the proclamation. Hochul, a Democrat, said Friday she is prepared to fill the vacancy and slammed Santos, saying "he has not served" the people of New York. Read more about the race for Santos' seat here.

However: There is some fungibility. Following the resignation of GOP Rep. Tom Reed, neither the 10-day nor the 70- to 80-day parameters were followed in scheduling a special election. Additionally, the House – and New York – are expecting a second House vacancy with the upcoming resignation of Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins, who announced he would step down in February, and Hochul could opt to pair those special elections.

Santos retains certain privileges: Unlike previous modern-day expulsions – of Democrat Michael Myers in 1980 and Democrat Jim Traficant in 2002 – Santos has not been convicted of a felony. House rules stipulate that until there is a conviction, Santos retains some privileges as a now-former member of Congress, including access to the House floor, dining room, gym and cloakroom but not security.

The expulsion resolution could have stripped Santos of those privileges, but there is no clause in the motion to do that. Both Traficant’s and Myer’s privileges were stripped immediately following the expulsion vote because they had been convicted of their crimes. 

But that could change: The House makes rules changes all the time regarding privileges for former members. Privileges were stripped for former members during the Covid-19 pandemic, and floor privileges are usually restricted for former members for the State of the Union address. Should Santos 1) be expelled; and 2) continue to exercise the privileges as a former member, it's expected a rules change would come to address that issue.

Remember: Apart from the Ethics Committee investigation, Santos has also pleaded not guilty to 23 federal charges, including allegations of fraud related to Covid-19 unemployment benefits, misusing campaign funds and lying about his personal finances on House disclosure reports.

4:41 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

The sign in front of former Rep. George Santos' office is now down

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

The sign in front of now-former Rep. George Santos' office is taken down on December 1.
The sign in front of now-former Rep. George Santos' office is taken down on December 1. CNN

The sign in front of now-former GOP Rep. George Santos' office in the House of Representative is down and has been replaced with a sign that reads “Office of the Third Congressional District of New York.”

4:53 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

Nassau County GOP already interviewing potential special election candidates to replace Santos 

From CNN's Greg Krieg

The process of picking a nominee for the special election to replace George Santos, which is expected to be held some time in February, has already begun – and should be completed within the week, Mike Deery, the spokesperson for the Nassau County, New York, Republican Party, said.

“We’re conducting interviews already and will continue to on Monday or Tuesday. We expect to have an announcement towards the end of week,” Deery told CNN.

Believed to be the favorites among the GOP hopefuls are State Sen. Jack Martins, Nassau County lawmaker Mazi Pilip, war veteran Kellen Curry and retired police officer Mike Sapraicone.

Deery said the group will speak with those four and others, with more than 20 people likely to be granted an interview.

On the Democratic side, multiple sources told CNN that former Rep. Tom Suozzi is expected to be the choice of Long Island Democrats. But he’s no shoo-in, New York state Democratic Party chair Jay Jacobs told CNN. The decision, according to the bylaws of the state party, is to be made by a committee of the county chairs in the district with the open seat. In this case, those people are Jacobs, who also runs the party in Nassau County, and Rep. Gregory Meeks, the Queens county party leader.

Jacobs said that they will also consult with New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat.

“We are having informal screenings over the next couple of days starting today and then I have asked our executive committee of the county committee here in Nassau to give me their advice,” Jacobs said. “It's going to be a decision that comes from a consensus. It is not going to be something that I think is going to be contentious in any fashion.”

Jacobs did acknowledge that Suozzi’s decision to challenge Hochul in 2022 did not sit well with some powerful Democrats – himself included.

"That is certainly not something that is a plus for me,” Jacobs said of thought process regarding Suozzi. “I happen to be friends with Tom, but I was very clear I didn't want him running against the governor. And there were things in the campaign that I took issue with, publicly, that I didn't agree with.”

He added, “That said, it's not a disqualifier by any means as far as I'm concerned.”

2:31 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

New York Gov. Hochul says she’s prepared to fill the vacancy left by the expulsion of Santos

From CNN's Laura Dolan and Kristina Sgueglia

Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during media availability after roundtable on hate and bias crimes with law enforcement at Governor's office on November 13, in New York.
Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during media availability after roundtable on hate and bias crimes with law enforcement at Governor's office on November 13, in New York. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday she is prepared to fill the vacancy left in the wake of the expulsion of George Santos from the House, in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. 

“I am prepared to undertake the solemn responsibility of filling the vacancy in New York’s 3rd District. The people of Long Island deserve nothing less,” Hochul posted.

New York State law stipulates that the governor make a proclamation of a special election within 10 days, with an election occurring “not less than seventy nor more than eighty days” following the proclamation.

Speaking to CNN affiliate NY1, Hochul said, “I’m glad he’s gone.”

“When you look at his lack of ethics and the fact that, you know, he has not served the people of our state, particularly New York 3 where he resides, it's been an abysmal run for him,” Hochul said Friday.

“And he has not done what he has to do for New Yorkers,” she added. “And I'm glad he's gone because I need people I can work with to fight for New York, to bring federal money to our state, to create jobs and opportunities.”

“And George Santos just took up space,” the governor said.

This post has been updated with additional comments from Gov. Hochul.

1:41 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

GOP House Ethics Committee chair pushes back on criticism that Santos expulsion sets a dangerous precedent

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer, Manu Raju and Kristin Wilson

Rep. Michael Guest arrives for the House Republicans' caucus meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on May 23.
Rep. Michael Guest arrives for the House Republicans' caucus meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on May 23. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

GOP House Ethics Chair Michael Guest defended his panel’s report on George Santos, and his own vote to expel the former congressman from New York, against criticism from his GOP colleagues that ousting a member without a conviction sets a dangerous precedent.

“In years past, I think we have seen members who have committed conduct substantially less severe than Mr. Santos resign,” the Republican from Mississippi told CNN’s Manu Raju. “Most members don't want to put themselves, their family, their constituents through this process. We know that that was not the case with Mr. Santos.” 

He said that he is not concerned that this could lead to other members being expelled without due process. 

“We submitted a very thorough report, 50-plus pages. I’ve got about six binders of exhibits that accompany that. And the report was overwhelming and it was substantially damning. And so I'm not concerned with this sets some future precedent that members will be willy-nilly removed from Congress because of a behavior that people do not accept,” Guest said.��

“I believe this is the exception to the rule. And I believe that probably within the last several decades that this is by far the worst corruption that we've seen where an individual member has not chosen to resign and not force Congress to hold the expulsion," he told CNN.

Guest added that he doesn’t expect the ethics committee to recommend expulsion more often, now that Santos has been ousted. “No one on the ethics committee goes and serves on that committee seeking to expel their fellow members of Congress. But again, this was so extreme. And look, if this case did not merit expulsion, then there would be no case that I would know of that would merit expulsion, short of a conviction,” he said.

“I don't believe that you're going to see the ethics committee is going to be this watchdog is going to come in and be seeking to remove members of Congress. But I do think that even in light of the precedent that this case is on itself, so bad on his face, that the punishment that was handed down today was merited," the lawmaker said.

5:07 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

All 4 top House GOP leaders voted to keep Santos in Congress. Here's a look at the vote tally

From CNN staff

A total of 311 members of the House voted to expel New York GOP Rep. George Santos, including 105 Republicans. In total, 114 House members voted against the expulsion, with two members recording themselves as "present."

All four top House GOP leaders — House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and House GOP Whip Tom Emmer — voted to keep Santos in Congress.

In total, 112 Republicans voted against expelling Santos.

A total of 206 Democrats voted to expel Santos. Two Democrats voted against expelling Santos from the House. They were Bobby Scott of Virginia and Nikema Williams of Georgia. Meanwhile, these two Democrats voted present: Jonathan Jackson of Illinois and Al Green of Texas.

See how each House member voted on Santos.

1:22 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

Here's how Republicans are reacting to the expulsion of Santos

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer, Manu Raju, Kristin Wilson and Haley Talbot

After New York GOP Rep. George Santos was expelled from the House, here's what Republicans are telling CNN about the vote — and the future of his seat:

GOP Rep. Byron Donalds: "I'm upset about it, because you're talking about erasing the very fabric of what's made us the greatest nation in the world. And it's not the actions of George Santos. It's the fact that everybody is afforded their day in court. And that was denied to him his day in court today. He lost his job," the lawmaker from Florida told CNN "Are we going to not tell every American that if you're accused of something you get fired on the spot? Is that not going to be the standard in the United States of America?"

"If that's going to be the standard in America going forward I shudder for the future of our country. That should not be the standard," he said, adding that the ethics committee’s report alone should not be enough to expel any member.

GOP Rep. Anthony D'Esposito: “There was a precedent set for someone like George Santos. The people in the Civil War were not George Santos, others that were removed from Congress were not George Santos, and I hope we don't have to do it again,” the lawmaker from New York said.

D’Esposito also expressed confidence that the GOP will be able to keep Santos' seat "because we are on the right side of every issue and we have great leadership.”

GOP Rep. Marc Molinaro: “What we have established is a precedent that when you fall far short of an ethical standard, we don't believe that you should be a member of Congress. And I think quite frankly, that should be reassuring and gratifying to the American people," the New York lawmaker told CNN.

GOP Rep. Mike Lawler: “I fundamentally believe he's unfit to serve in public office, whether he’s dog catcher in his local community or here in the halls of Congress,” the representative from New York said. “I think the voters were defrauded in New York's 3rd Congressional District. Donors were clearly defrauded. He used campaign funds for personal gain. And ultimately, the ethics report was pretty damning, and pretty clear and comprehensive.”

GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez: “I think that the evidence is pretty overwhelming that he stole money from his contributors, and to me that’s one of the cardinal sins of public service. And you don’t deserve to be a public servant if you’re stealing money from your constituents,” the lawmaker from Florida said, adding that Republicans are ready to defend Santos’ seat in the upcoming special election to replace him.

12:52 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

House Democratic super PAC announces plans to spend big to flip expelled GOP Rep. Santos’ seat

From CNN's Manu Raju

Wasting no time, the House Democratic super PAC announced plans to spend big to pick up GOP Rep. George Santos’ seat. 

“House Majority PAC plans to play a significant role in the NY-03 special election, and we will do whatever it takes to flip this district blue,” House Majority PAC President Mike Smith said.

12:04 p.m. ET, December 1, 2023

GOP Rep. Miller accuses Santos of stealing money from him and his mother

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer, Manu Raju and Haley Talbot

Rep. Max Miller leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on February 28.
Rep. Max Miller leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on February 28. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Rep. Max Miller, a GOP freshman from Ohio, accused Rep. George Santos of stealing money from him and his mother, and attacked Speaker Mike Johnson for opposing Santos’ expulsion. 

“I think leadership — this is just another example of Republicans who can't lead. And that's a really shameful. You know, the speaker and everyone in leadership knows that this man is a crook,” Miller said. 

He accused the New York Republican of using his and his mother’s credit card information to steal $5,000 from each of them, and marking them as an over donation.

“In January, I got an FEC Complaint because of an over donation to George Santos, and I'll explain why. I’m Jewish, my family's Jewish and they were donors and they like to give money to people who are Jewish, who are Republicans, because that's who we are,” he said. 

“And Mr. Santos took, not only my credit card personally, he took my mother's credit card personally and he swiped them both for an additional $5,000, marking it as an over donation. And I have it by the FEC, and I have the document in my office. And what I can tell you is within that document — I won't disclose any other names — but he defrauded over 350 people for hundreds of 1000s of dollars under undisclosed amounts, and I had to hire an attorney to fight it by the FEC that I think cost me 15 or $20,000. Altogether, this man has cost my family $30,000.” 

Santos’ office did not respond to a CNN request for comment on the allegation and CNN has reached out to Johnson’s office for comment.