House Speaker Mike Johnson said Saturday that he could not stop the expulsion of Republican Rep. George Santos of New York on Friday.
Johnson appeared on Fox & Friends alongside Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to address the ousting of Santos.
“We couldn’t block it. It was a privileged resolution, which means it has to come to the floor within two days of filing, and it was a regrettable day,” Johnson said. “Prior to yesterday, only five people had ever been expelled from Congress. Three were Confederates, two were convicted of federal charges. And George Santos has not been convicted in a court.”
Johnson noted the Republican Party’s belief in the rule of law and due process, stating his “deep concern” for the precedent set by Santos’ expulsion. He emphasized that Santos had yet to be convicted of a crime, explaining that as the reason for his own “reservations” about the move.
“Yeah, a lot of our members felt very passionate about this one. We allowed them to have a vote of conscience. I felt like that was important,” Johnson said. (RELATED: ‘He’s Been Convicted’: House Republicans Train Their Sights On Jammal Bowman After George Santos Is Expelled)
Santos was expelled from the U.S. House becoming the first member in history to be expelled before begin convicted in a floor vote of 311-114. He previously announced on Nov. 16 that he will not seek reelection after the release of the House Ethics Committee report that said the New York Republican “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.”
“There were some members on the other side making a rule of law argument in favor of expelling because they said what was different about Santos is he was alleged to have committed crimes against the institution itself and that’s why they felt that this made this a different thing,” Johnson said. “We’ve had very impassioned views of that, and uh, and you know, we’ve let our views be made known to the members, but we’ve allowed them to do what they did.”
“We’re down to a three-vote margin. It’s a difficult thing to govern under those circumstances, but we’re optimistic about where we’re headed,” Johnson said. “This team is together. We’re pulling together, we’ve got big things ahead of us, but um, I’m bullish on the future of this.”