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Brazil informs U.S. government that it intends to criminally charge George Santos

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Brazil has informed the United States government that it intends to charge George Santos with fraud in a fifteen year old case, according to the New York Times. This means he’ll be criminally tried in Brazil whether he attends or not, and if he’s convicted, he’ll face extradition to Brazil so he can serve his prison sentence.

Over the holiday weekend it was also reported that the Department of Justice and the Long Island District Attorney are each separately investigating George Santos for potential financial crimes during the course of his 2022 campaign for Congress.

The criminal case in Brazil appears to have already been completed years ago, while U.S. investigators are still digging in. So this points to a realistic scenario in which Brazil convicts and sentences Santos even as the U.S. is bringing indictments against him, which would raise extradition questions. But either way, if Santos is convicted, he’s going to end up in prison somewhere.

The kicker is that the way U.S. law is written, none of this will keep Santos from taking office tomorrow. If House Republicans had any gumption or sense, they’d force him not to take office by threatening to immediately expel him, and then they’d saddle up for a special election. Instead they’ll tepidly spend months letting their agenda get drowned out by the Santos scandal, and wait until he’s in a prison cell and of no use to them at all before finally cutting him loose.

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To an extent, the system has to work this way. Otherwise some corrupt rural District Attorney could just fraudulently criminally charge every Democrat who wins a congressional seat, keeping them from taking office until they’re acquitted. The part that needs to change is that being convicted of a felony while in office should disqualify you from remaining in office.


In any case, it now appears that George Santos committed crimes in Brazil and then went to the United States in order to avoid prosecution, only to commit more crimes in the United States, and then commit even more crimes while running for Congress in the United States.

While it feels like a middle finger to democracy that George Santos gets to be sworn in tomorrow, keep in mind that this is a nightmare for House Republicans. Santos is the poster child for everything that’s gone horrifically wrong within the Republican Party. The Democrats will spend every day using Santos to weaken House Republicans’ 2024 prospects. And the Republicans are too afraid to get rid of him because they’re already unable to function with the tiny minority they currently have. Every day that Santos remains in office, Republicans’ odds of keeping the House in 2024 drop a little further.

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