Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., denounced the expulsion of Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., from the House, arguing it establishes a bad precedent, given that Santos "hasn't been convicted of anything."
"George Santos hasn't been convicted of anything," Burchett said. "And in America, we're still innocent until proven guilty."
Burchett, who cast a dissenting vote in opposition to removing the embattled New York Republican, asserted that other lawmakers have committed comparable or more severe offenses, The Hill reported.
In an interview with "The Hill on NewsNation," Burchett pointed to instances involving other members of Congress where those cases did not result in expulsion.
"We have one Congress member who has had at least an ongoing relation for quite some time with a Chinese communist spy that's been documented. You have one that's possibly violated immigration laws; you have one that's pulled a fire alarm, which, at least in Tennessee, that's a pretty serious violation," Burchett stated.
His remarks followed Santos' removal from Congress in a 311-114-2 vote on Friday morning, prompted by the House Ethics Committee's recent report indicating "substantial evidence" of serious federal crimes committed by Santos.
When questioned about applying the same principle to Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N. J., facing calls to resign over bribery allegations, Burchett agreed, stating, "He's not been convicted. Of course, that's up to the Senate. The Senate probably has different rules than we do. But no; if he has not been convicted, then you're still innocent until proven guilty."
"Until then, you know, nothing should change," he added, drawing parallels to the treatment of former President Donald Trump.
Santos, who had faced demands to resign for months from several of his House colleagues, had announced that he would not seek reelection next year.
The 56-page report from the House Ethics Committee exposes a broad spectrum of purported misconduct. According to investigators, Santos is accused of embezzling funds from his campaign, duping contributors, fabricating loans, and participating in deceptive business transactions.
The report contends that the congressman directed substantial sums toward personal indulgence, encompassing spa and casino visits, upscale shopping excursions, and disbursements to an adult content subscription site.
Santos faces nearly two dozen federal charges, including assertions of donor fraud, misappropriation of funds for personal gain, identity theft of family members, and unauthorized use of donors' credit cards for substantial expenditures.
He has entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.
Jim Thomas ✉
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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