George Santos — The Face Of Today’s GOP?

Yesterday, I noted in a brief snippet that serial liar George Santos had been arrested on 13 counts of financial crimes such as wire fraud and money-laundering.  George Santos seems to have studied at the Trump School of Cons & Liars, doesn’t he?  Today, I share with you Joyce Vance’s deeper dive into the charges, causes, and potential penalties for these crimes.  Ms. Vance is an attorney and a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Law, teaching in the areas of criminal justice reform, criminal procedure, and civil rights, so she knows of what she speaks. Kevin McCarthy, desperate to keep his very narrow majority in the House of Representatives, is refusing to demand Santos’ resignation, and Santos is claiming he will remain in his seat in the House.  Governance???  HAH!   More like a clown show!

The Tragicomedy of George Santos and the GOP

Also, understanding the crimes Santos is charged with

Joyce Vance

10 May 2023

What is the worst fate that could befall a political party? Leaving Donald Trump (sexual assaulter, twice-impeached, insurrectionist, former president who badly lost his effort to hold onto the office and is still denying it on national television, thanks to CNN and their misguided “town hall” Wednesday night) for the moment, it’s George Santos, also a serial liar. Instead of offloading him at the first possible moment, when news of who he really is came to light, Republicans held onto him. They supported him. They wanted his vote in Congress so badly that they revealed to us who they’ve become through their embrace of him. Of course, most of us already knew. We’ve understood the truth about what the Grand Old Party has become for some time.

What could be more plain than the tragedy for a political party of having a George, or is it Devolder, in your ranks? The tragedy of the post-Trump Republican Party is summed up, very tidily, in the person of George Santos.

He lied about his mother’s death and tried to claim the mantle of sympathy for victims of 9/11. He claimed to be Jewish and, then, Jew-ish. There’s nothing George Santos won’t stoop to. Today we learned what DOJ believes it can prove to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ahead of Santos’s first appearance in court this morning, DOJ unsealed a 13-count indictment charging him with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. Read the full indictment here. And the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, which further explains the charges they brought along with DOJ’s Criminal Division, here.

Santos has almost inevitably pleaded guilty to try to limit his time in custody. While some of the charges will place him in a sentencing guideline range where at least some time in prison is required, he could plead, for instance to the false statements charges, where that might not be the case. However, his prior criminal history is murky and he may end up in a category where no matter what, he has to spend at least some period of time in custody. Here’s hoping.

Prosecutors have also requested the seizure of assets Santos obtained as a result of his crimes. If they can’t be located, substitute assets in their value can be seized.

Let’s take a first look at what these charges require the government to prove.

Wire fraud: The elements of wire fraud are (1) that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud someone out of money; (2) that the defendant had the intent to defraud; (3) that the defendant knew or should have foreseen that interstate wire communications would be used; and (4) that interstate wire communications were in fact used. What differentiates wire fraud from other federal fraud crimes like mail fraud or bank fraud is proof that the defendant made an interstate phone call or electronic communication to execute the scheme. In other words, sending a potential donor an email.

The maximum statutory sentence for wire fraud is 20 years, or 30 years if “the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency.” There was speculation before we saw the indictment that the 30-year penalty could come into play because of Covid. Although counts 1 through 5 of the indictment charge wire fraud, they are in connection with illegal campaign contributions Santos sought. But counts 10 and 11 involved his fraudulent application for and receipt of Covid-related unemployment benefits and they could well trigger the longer provision.

Money laundering: 18 U.S.C. § 1957 is a companion to § 1956, the primary federal money laundering statute. Section 1957 prohibits depositing or spending more than $10,000 of the proceeds from a “predicate offense.” The statutory maximum penalty is 10 years in custody. Santos is charged in connection with transfers of money obtained through illegal campaign contributions to accounts he accessed for personal use.

There, the government has to prove five elements to establish this crime: (1) the defendant knowingly engaged or attempted to engage in a monetary transaction; (2) the defendant knew that the transaction involved criminally derived property (they don’t have to know exactly what the crime was, though); (3) the criminally derived property must have a value that exceeds $10,000; (4) the criminally derived property has to been obtained through the commission of an unlawful activity specified in the money-laundering provisions; and the monetary transaction must have taken place, for purposes of this case, in the United States.

Theft of government property: Title 18 U.S.C. § 641 provides that whoever “steals” any “thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof” shall be fined and imprisoned no more than 10 years so long as the value of the stolen property is over $1,000. If it’s less than that, the crime becomes a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. The charge here relates to the unemployment benefits Santos obtained by lying about his employment status during Covid, and assuming the government can prove its contention that he obtained over $1,000 he wasn’t entitled to, this is another felony charge.

The government will have to prove Santos stole government property—benefits like this typically qualify under this provision—with the intent to keep them permanently. 

False statements: Republicans may not be intent on holding Santos responsible for the false statements he made on his disclosure forms, but DOJ wants a word here, charging Santos with false statements on both his 2020 and 2022 disclosure forms.

Section 1001’s statutory terms are violated if a defendant knowingly makes false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations about a material matter to an agency or department of the United States. The maximum penalty is five years in custody.

“Materiality” is a hot issue in 1001 cases. To be criminal, the statement has to have been capable of influencing the outcome of the endeavor the false statement was submitted in support of. An easy way to understand this is to think about a passport application. If you submit one using a false name and statement about being a citizen, those false statements would be material to the State Department’s decision as to whether to grant a passport. That explains why the test for materiality isn’t whether the false statement actually influenced a government function but whether it had the capacity to influence. The government alleges Santos made false statements about his earnings that were submitted to the House Ethics Committee. It’s not difficult to envision some question about whether Santos’s false statements in this regard are material given that Committee’s seeming inertia.

That’s a quick layout of the legal elements the government will have to prove to convict on each of these charges. More likely, they will be reciting those elements and the evidence they have to support them for whichever charges are selected for Santos to plead to.

Santos is a garden-variety con man. It’s likely no one was more surprised than Santos himself when he won the election. He was campaigning for the grift. He would have kept his ill-gotten gains if he’d lost. His unemployment benefits fraud likely would not have come to light. It was his electoral success that set the events that led to his prosecution in motion. Had Santos lost, it’s unlikely any of this would have ever come to light. But Republicans’ unvetted support for him—Elise Stefanik, the Harvard-educated lawyer in the Republican leadership, was a key fundraiser—and insistence that he remain in office has brought about this result. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has declined to demand his resignation. You are what you tolerate. Whether it’s George Santos or Donald Trump, who took center stage on CNN tonight to repeat his lies and spew his hate, we can know the Republican Party by the company it keeps.

Trump’s performance tonight, and the laughing audience that seemingly enjoyed his denigration of the criminal justice system and of democracy itself, frighten me. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, something I say a lot but that is nonetheless true if we’re going to hold onto this democracy.

We’re in this together

23 thoughts on “George Santos — The Face Of Today’s GOP?

  1. I’ve bent folks’ reading facilities long enough with what I fear might happen and why it is happening.
    Let’s try another approach:

    Gettysburg July 1st to 3rd 1863.

    Bear this in mind as the 2024 election approaches

    Only this time the leaders of the forces who would destroy the USA are nowhere are near in talent, ability and depth of character as confederate generals Lee or Longstreet.
    They are more like the arch fool on the Union side Judson Kilpatrick or political opportunist George Sickles (Sorry about being an ACW geek on this I hold both men in contempt, similar to those fouling the Republican Party )


  2. Thank you for sharing!.. as I have mentioned numerous times in the past, it all comes down to the people.. elements of society who have set minds and are looking for someone to tell them what they wish to hear “birds of like feather flock together”.. and in order to gain power, folks like Trump, Santos and others too numerous to mention tell the people what they wish to hear, even if it is a lie,,, 🙂

    As far as the CNN thing, it is my understanding, though not sure how accurate the intel is, the the majority (if not all) of the audience were Trump supporters, expect that is the only way they got Trump on CNN with a audience… 🙂

    Hope all is well in your part of the universe and until we meet again…
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s funny ~ along with predicting NASA’s BOAT, the wandering magnetic Pole and our current financial crisis upramp, writers in human consciousness ascension have also been talking for over a year now about numerous sealed endightments being prepared for unveiling as the pace of this Shift picks up.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jill, like a broken record, the failure of any entity to police its own, indicts the group. The theme of one bad apple spoiling the bunch holds true. The lessons are many whether it is the Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team, British youth football or the Universities such as Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State. The Democrats have historically done better at ridding themselves of poor acting incumbents, but both could be better. There is no place in Congress for the likes of George Santos and eventually the legal system will force the hand of the Republican leadership. There is also no place in Washington for Donald Trump, but that lesson remains unlearned by the GOP although the rest of the county is already picking up on that.


    Liked by 3 people

    • So true. As a citizen, voter, and taxpayer, I resent the very notion that Kevin McCarthy would allow a liar and a thief like Santos to remain in Congress, voting on important legislation that affects all of our lives, when the man obviously has zero conscience! This has gone too far … first Trump, then all the ignominious people like Greene, Boebert, Gaetz, Gosar, et al, and now Santos! Where are the serious lawmakers? For sure they are NOT in the Republican Party!


  5. There are a lot of faces of the GOP in Congress (throughout the GOP, actually), though Santos’s may be the most shameless. But the ugliest (in every way) is still that of Donald Trump, thanks to whom truth and facts have become so irrelevant and distorted that they don’t matter to millions of American voters. If the GOP wins the 2024 election, God (or fate) have mercy on all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes, I fully agree. Santos is a joke, though he doesn’t seem to realize it. Trump is a piece of rotting, toxic trash that threatens all we hold dear. I’m with you, mm … if a Republican … any of them that are on the current radar … takes the White House in 2024, I think that democracy in the United States will be doomed within a year. I will not live in a country under Donald Trump again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I use that one for other purposes. For all intents and purposes Steppenwolf started as a Canadia band (The Sparrows I believe, if memory serves. And John Kay was actually born in Germany, and was brought to Canada as a child, so the band is basically multi-national.)
        Still, I tend to think of Santos as more a Fool on a Hill than a Monster, but maybe I am giving him too much of the benefit of a doubt!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Oh Santos is just an idiot in the ranks. He’ll do as he’s told, the current Republicans will hold him as a willing vote grateful for the help and begging for scraps.
          The Monster is the whole Intolerant and Nascently violent wing who have dismissed democracy as a fraud whenever it suits them. Very difficult times if you have genuine old school republican views.

          And yes, first name Sparrow. Kay, I think was actually from East Germany and his family got over the guarded border

          Liked by 1 person

          • And the story grows. But the song remains the same — a condemnation of the “American” twist on democracy. Freedom for the ruling class, despite there being no admission of class. All men are created equal! As long as they are white, Christian, and have small penises.
            My apologies to the hostess of this site, who does not fit the criteria for being a classist, in any way.

            Liked by 2 people

            • From a folk-memory steeped in European history going back 3,000 years, I don’t personally see America as the only example. Historically it’s America’s time as a principal on the world stage, although that could fade under this current narrow viewed Republicanism.
              The charges against America are ones which can be levelled against every society in the History of the world, with the possible exceptions of the aboriginal ones more concerned with getting on with the nature of their environments.
              Whereas personally American culture tended to be my go-to-place over the decades, American policies and ingrained imbalances are sadly those of ‘civilisations’ everywhere.
              The knack is not to centre on America as this distracts people from other big powers, or smaller nations ruled by autocrats. In fact some folk are so locked into a view of anti-Americanism they will excuse everyone else’s crimes. Parts of the British Left being examples of this myopia.
              Humanity is basically flawed making the same mistakes over and over. Its evolution is being held back by those flaws.

              Liked by 1 person

              • But the flaws can be overcome, if we would just let our children grow up without teaching them all our hang-ups. But apparently that is just too much to ask of most humans, who believe they have the right to own their children.
                By-the-bye, Sir, do I owe you some answers to questions, or replies to comments or posts? I have not been myself of late, and have the feeling of unfinished business. Getting old is yucky!

                Liked by 2 people

                • You would have thought after the disasters of two world wars in 31 years we would have learnt.
                  Instead…I spent just 3 minutes on this memory sift 20 major wars and major civil disturbances, and those were the ones which came to mind in that time frame.
                  And that era we were reminiscencing about ‘The 60s’ when everything would change and that generation gave us Reagan and Thatcher, and many of its children voted for Trump and Boris Johnson.
                  While everyone celebrated the ‘end’ of the Cold War and Soviet Union?
                  WE, The People should do as you suggest, but WE, The People don’t.
                  Over and over again. Someone said something like Insanity was repeating the same thing and expecting different outcomes?
                  Anyway, rant concluded.

                  You take your time my good friend. Get your health back first and conversations can always be restarted somewhere, somewhen.
                  Getting old is yucky, but compulsory, but our hearts and minds can still stay ever open.
                  Take care now.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • Back in our youth, when the USA was being slammed, The USSR was in relative quiet stifling folk, with the occasional double figure fatalities in riot control, while Mao released the terror of the Cultural Revolution, which uniformed youth in Europe lapped up (idiots).
                  There was a repeat of that in Syria in the past few years, when the myopic Stop The War Coalition (translate that into Stop all western governments) gave Assad and Putin a free pass.
                  And that’s before we get around the the constant issue of communal violence in India, the unspeakable military regime in Myanmar and so forth.
                  If anyone is going to knock the USA then if they are truly concerned they had best get an A4 sheet of paper to list comparable nations, but better write small.


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