The walls seem to be closing in on freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos as federal prosecutors asked Judge Joanna Seybert to postpone the Sept. 7 status conference to continue discussions on “possible paths forward” in his fraud case.
In a letter filed on Sept. 5, prosecutors notified Seybert that they intended to file new evidence against Santos, stating that the parties “have continued to discuss possible paths forward in this matter.” They also added that the parties “wish to have additional time to continue those discussions.”
In May, Santos pleaded not guilty to federal charges of wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds. Prosecutors accused him of fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits, using campaign contributions to pay down personal debts and purchase designer clothing and lying to the House of Representatives about his financial condition. Santos denies he might plead guilty in the 13-count federal fraud case.
He faces up to 20 years in prison for the top counts in the indictment. The specter of additional evidence, and possibly even additional charges, could add to the pressure on the first-term congressman to plead.
In recent weeks, Santos has said he’s not interested in a plea deal but didn’t rule one out at some point in the future. In August, when Santos was asked on NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live” whether he would consider a guilty plea, the congressman said, “Look, I don’t know, I’m not making any assertions right now. Like I said earlier, right now, the answer is no, but you just never know.”
In a vague Sept. 7 tweet, Santos wrote “word of the day: speculation,” and told a Talking Points Memo reporter that suggestions he is considering pleading guilty are “wildly inaccurate.”
But long before news reports exposed the numerous falsehoods by the embattled congressman, a vulnerability report, which was produced by a Washington D.C. based firm, questioned his claims about his personal life, curriculum vitae, and campaign finance discrepancies. The BBC’s U.S. partner CBS News published portions of the research for the first time on Sept. 8, but Santos has not yet commented on the findings.
After the House’s first day back after its summer recess, Santos spoke with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday.
Santos focused on speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, and told Burnett that he supported a transparent investigation, but acknowledged that he had not seen evidence worthy of impeachment.
Burnett asked if there’s no report with sufficient evidence why support an impeachment inquiry.
“It’s very simple, the process can’t be cheap and we can’t allow us to do the same mistakes that speaker Pelosi did and just bulldoze through an impeachment without any credible evidence,” Santos said.
He added the American public is “already fractured and sick and tired of that.” But he supports the decision stating transparency is needed to find sufficient evidence for impeachment.
He claimed Pelosi didn’t allow the same process, and the investigation is only based on assumptions.
Burnett asked why Republicans are mirroring the former impeachment process. Santos said he is amazed by the criticism and he didn’t see outrage from CNN when Pelosi conducted an investigation on Trump, believing Pelosi set a precedent for McCarthy to follow.
“It’s not like he was parading around and excited about his decision,” Santos added. “It wasn’t a decision he took lightly.”
Burnett denied Santos’ allegations and said CNN has the reports.
A clip of Republican Congressman Ken Buck was played during the interview, which showed his opposing the investigation when there is no evidence linking Biden to a high crime or misdemeanor. Santos agreed with his colleague, and claimed there’s no sufficient evidence at the moment.
“But we have sufficient evidence, allegations, and leads to support an inquiry,” Santos claimed. “I think you’re trying to confuse the American people in the point you’re trying to convey is that we don’t have sufficient avenues to go and investigate.”
When asked about McCarthy’s current stance on Santos remaining in Congress, Santos said McCarthy is entitled to his opinion bid for re-election, but that is solely Santos’ own decision.
When asked about his potential expulsion from Congress, Santos said he believes in due process, and the committee should be wary of making a hasty decision.
“I’m going through the process and I’m standing strong doing that, but it’s amazing every single time I come on networks it seems to be the same questions on and on and on again,” he said.
Santos said he wasn’t going to speak about his investigation on national television, even if he knew where the investigation currently stood, because he didn’t want to disrupt the investigating process.