Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against serial fabulist Rep. George Santos (R-NY), according to CNN.
Three sources familiar with the matter told the network that Santos is likely to appear in federal court in New York on Wednesday for charges that remained under seal on Tuesday.
The news appeared to catch Santos by surprise. “That’s news to me,” he said when reached by phone Tuesday evening by Associated Press reporter Farnoush Amiri. “You’re the first to call me about this.”
A spokesperson for Santos didn’t respond to questions after the story broke, and instead “abruptly departed his DC office with her backpack,” according to CNN’s Haley Talbot.
On Tuesday night, Santos was returning to New York after ditching House votes in D.C., a source told Talbot. He was earlier seen darting in and out of GOP House speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office.
While the specific charges weren’t immediately known, Santos has been under investigation by a slew of agencies, from local district attorney’s offices to the Department of Justice to the Federal Election Commission to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“As you know with George Santos, I did not put him on any committees,” McCarthy said when questioned Tuesday about whether he’d support Santos after the reported charges. (McCarthy actually did appoint Santos to two committees—the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, as well as the Small Business Committee—but Santos eventually recused himself.)
“In America, we’ll just follow the same pattern we always have,” McCarthy said. “If a person is indicted, they’re not on committees, they have the right to vote but they have to go to trial.”
Federal regulators have also reportedly been looking into Santos’ assets and more than half a million dollars in loans he supposedly distributed to his 2022 campaign for New York’s third congressional district.
Santos reportedly had no assets and was making $55,000 a year at an investment firm prior to his first congressional run in 2020, according to financial disclosures. But just two years later, he claimed assets between $3.5 million and $11.5 million, and he claimed to have loaned his campaign $700,000 from his company, the Devolder Organization, before dissolving the firm in Sept. 2022.
The Daily Beast reported in January that Santos’ political operation later filed a flurry of amended campaign finance reports, telling the feds, among other things, that a $500,000 loan may not have, in fact, come from his personal funds. And later that month, the FEC notified the treasurer for the Santos campaign that they “may have failed to include the true, correct, or complete treasurer information” when they erroneously named a new treasurer in campaign filings.
“The prosecution of @RepSantosNY03 is long overdue,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) said in a tweet.
The Bronx Democrat, who publicly called on the FEC to investigate Santos’ campaign finances back in January, took a victory lap on Twitter after months of blowing the whistle on Santos’ shenanigans.
“He is a pathological liar and lawbreaker who defrauded his way into public office. As we learn more about this investigation, one thing is clear. He must resign or @HouseGOP must join us to expel him.”
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) became the first Republican to call for Santos’ resignation Tuesday evening, saying in response to the news: “As a retired NYPD detective, I am confident the justice system will fully reveal Congressman Santos’ long history of deceit, and I once again call on this serial fraudster to resign from office.”
Santos has been accused of lying about everything from his dog charity to his alleged Jewish ancestry to his mother’s 9/11 death and his claim of being a former high-flying banker and college volleyball champ.