Santos will run for re-election even if expelled and downplays past lies

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

Accused Congressman George Santos says he plans to run for his seat in 2024 even if he is expelled from Congress and insists that fabricating large parts of his life story will have no impact on voters next year.

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Manu Raju on Friday, Santos, a Republican from New York, argued that his constituents did not vote for him based on his resume and said he would “absolutely” run in 2024 if off — something that could happen as early as this month if the House Ethics Committee recommends the chamber take such a dramatic step.

Santos, who is being investigated 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 House of Representatives. A superseding indictment filed last month provided new and damaging details about Santos’ alleged efforts to personally profit from his campaign.

Adding to the congressman’s mounting legal troubles, former Santos 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 statements and information.

During the interview, Santos defended himself, saying he did nothing wrong despite the evidence gathered by federal prosecutors. He also dismissed concerns voters might have about lying about his past, something he has acknowledged in the past and did so again Friday.

“No one knew my biography. No one has opened my bio who voted for me in the campaign,” he said.

Referring to previous misstatements about his background, Santos said: “No one chose me because I played volleyball or not. Nobody picked on me because I graduated college or not. People elected me because I said I’m going to come here to fight the swamp, I’m going to come here to reduce inflation, create more jobs, make life more affordable and commitment to America,” he said.

Santos has already admitted to lying about parts of his resume, including his college graduation. CNN’s KFILE reported that while Santos’ biography sometimes listed an education at Baruch College, a spokesperson said the college could find no record of anyone with his name or birthday ever attending the school. Santos also falsely claimed to be a member of Baruch’s volleyball team.

A resolution to expel Santos fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority in the House this week, but supporters of the measure said they would push for a future vote to expel him.

But the New York Republican said he believes he can win the primary and projected confidence in his general election prospects in the constituency he represents. “Look, could I have won the general election last time? Nobody said I could,” he said. “Elections are difficult. There is no predetermined outcome.

On Thursday, Republicans in New York expressed confidence that House Republicans would ultimately vote to expel Santos after the panel released its report.

“At the end of the day. I suspect the ethics report will prove and suggest that he’s as bad as we think he is,” said Congressman Mark Molinaro. “There’s just no 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 there’s going to be any discussion why he shouldn’t be expelled,” said Congressman Anthony D’Esposito.

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

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