Last Wednesday, a defiant George Santos (R-NY) told reporters that he would not resign from the House despite being indicted by the Justice Department on 13 counts, The Hill reported.
Earlier that day, federal prosecutors charged the embattled New York Congressman with multiple counts of money laundering and wire fraud, as well as one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making false statements on House disclosures.
After entering a plea of not guilty in a Long Island court and being released on a $500,000 bond, Santos told reporters that he believes he is innocent and he will not resign from office. Instead, Santos said he would “fight the witch hunt” and clear his name.
When returning to Washington on Thursday, Santos reiterated his position, telling reporters that he will continue fighting for what he believes in and for the constituents of his New York district.
By House rules, the indictment alone does not disqualify Santos from serving in Congress. Other lawmakers facing indictments also remained in office, including New Jersey Democrat Senator Bob Menendez.
House rules state that any member who is charged with a felony carrying more than 2 years in prison must resign from committee assignments and step down from leadership as the legal process is underway. Santos resigned from his committee assignments in January and is not part of the Republican leadership.
However, this has not stopped some Republican lawmakers from calling on Santos to resign from office. Republicans in the House GOP leadership on the other hand said they would wait for the legal process to play out before asking Santos to resign.
The primary charges of wire fraud carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each charge. If convicted on multiple counts, it will be up to the judge if Santos serves those sentences concurrently or consecutively.
When asked by reporters if he still planned to run for reelection in 2024, Santos said he did, adding that he intends to prove his innocence and “move forward from there.”