On Wednesday, House Republican leaders reacted to the federal indictment of Rep. George Santos, RNY, by refusing to call for his resignation while his case goes to court.
“Regarding George Santos, he’s already been removed from all of his committees,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., said during Wednesday’s leadership press conference. “There’s a legal process. The charges just came out, we saw some of them this morning. And so in America, there’s a presumption of innocence, but they’re serious charges. He’s going to have to go through the legal process.”
A 13-count indictment was unsealed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Santos with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of felony material false statements in the House of Representatives.
the accusation was returned on Tuesday under seal of a federal grand jury sitting in Central Islip, New York. Santos was arrested Wednesday morning and will be arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay in federal court in Central Islip. He is currently being held in this federal court.
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Included in those charges are allegations that Santos committed unemployment benefits fraud under the COVID-19 pandemic relief programs. House Republicans are currently working on legislation to extend the statute of limitations on pandemic unemployment and benefit fraud. A reporter asked Scalise if the charges against Santos undermine that effort.
“We will continue to work to eliminate fraud,” he replied. “We’re talking about tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars in fraud in many federal programs. We pointed that out. I mean, they’re not even checking the Social Security numbers.”
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“You have reports of people, even in foreign countries, getting taxpayer money for things that should only be available to Americans who are falling on hard times, not to go to drug cartels or people who they just want to rip off the system.” Scalise continued. “And so I hope that Democrats will support us to eliminate fraud.”
The majority leader added that Santos will have to “face the charges he has” while the judicial procedure “is carried out”.
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House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, RNY, noted, “Unfortunately, this is not the first time a member of Congress from either party has been indicted.”
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“There is a set of rules and, as the Majority Leader stated, [Santos] had voluntarily resigned from their committees,” he said. “We are committed to making sure we eliminate any fraud when it comes to unemployment and pandemic assistance. And we are working to have the support of our conference. And it’s good policy, and we urge Democrats to vote for it.”
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.