Brazil is a happening place right now. First, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was inaugurated on January 1, after Bolsonaro had fled to Florida subsequent to losing his presidential immunity. Pelé was buried in his final resting place on Tuesday as millions of fans in Brazil and around the world mourned the sports legend, and now Brazilian authorities are reopening a criminal fraud case against Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) from more than a decade ago.
Adding to the local and federal investigations already ongoing in the United States following the revelations of the false statements he has made about himself, they are seeking his response on charges from 2008.
A spokesperson for Rio de Janeiro’s prosecutor’s office told The New York Times that police had been unable to locate Santos, but with his location now known, thanks to his newly-won fame, the office will request that the Justice Department formally notify him of the charges.
By now the story is familiar: Santos reportedly entered a small clothing store in Niterói, a city outside Rio de Janeiro, shortly before his 20th birthday in 2008 and spent almost $700 using a stolen checkbook and a fake name, according to court records.
He admitted to the shop owner that he committed fraud in August 2009 and wrote on a social media website that he knows he “screwed up” but wants to pay. He and his mother told police the next year that he stole the checkbook from a man that the mother formerly worked for, the Times reported.
A judge approved a charge against Santos in September 2011 and ordered Santos to respond, but he was in the United States by October and he ignored it.
As has been the case with his many lies, Santos previously denied that any criminal charge had been filed against him in Brazil in an interview with the New York Post last week, saying, “I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world,” he said. “Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.” Unfortunately, the charge proved to be all too real and now extradition to Brazil may be in his future.
The Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office announced a formal request will be made through the US Justice Department.. If he does not appear in Brazilian court, he could be tried in absentia and face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
However, here in the US, there is no mechanism to stop a congressman-elect from taking office if duly elected, even when unmasked as a complete fraud. A two-thirds vote of the House of Representatives would be needed in order to expel him from office, something which has only happened twice since the Civil War.
Even if he is found guilty of the crime, it does not mean he is automatically expelled. But the Republican Party leadership has been silent on whether Santos should take office. It is widely known that Kevin McCarthy, who is once again attempting to win the place of Speaker of the House, is short of votes. He therefore needs every vote that he can scrounge and George Santos has already pledged his.
McCarthy needs 218 votes to be elected speaker, meaning he can only lose the support of five members of his party. But today he failed to secure the necessary number of votes to secure him the position, the first time in nearly a century that the majority party’s nominee needed a second vote. Lawmakers have followed through on their threats to oppose him as speaker in what is being called the Republican mutiny. McCarthy is belligerent and vows to keep trying.
At present, is not clear exactly how easily Santos could be extradited to Brazil, but it might be just as difficult to achieve that as it is to expel him from Congress. In any case, no newly-elected representatives can be sworn in until a speaker is elected.
Discussion about this post