After managing to escape the consequences of his litany of lies, Congressman George Santos may finally be running out of luck. Former associate Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha has sent an affidavit to federal authorities which attests to the fact that Santos was, in fact, the mastermind behind a Seattle credit card theft plot that got Trelha arrested six years ago and ultimately deported to Brazil.
What is most perplexing about Santos’s rise to the top of a mountain of deceit is that he has exposed the extent to which our electoral process is based on what is fundamentally a version of the honor system. As blatant as the congressman’s conduct was, he had not broken any laws, and it seemed he would be free to continue dodging reporters by getting into elevators and nominally representing his district, which had actually voted for a different person and completely made up than the person they got, at least until he was ousted from office in 2024.
If Trelha is telling the truth, Santos actually violated specific criminal laws, and the relevant authorities should seize this gift-wrapped statement and aggressively pursue it. Santos flew to Seattle for a court appearance in Trelha’s case and lied to the judge about working at Goldman Sachs. The US Secret Service and federal prosecutors should be able to follow leads like the warehouse where he allegedly kept the stolen credit card material.
There is no doubt that Santos will claim that he is the victim of a political witch hunt, the answer du jour for MAGA types who want to avoid the consequences of their actions. As with any other high-profile case, or any criminal case for that matter, law enforcement should be sure to dot the i’s and cross the t’s if they decide to take you down.
Calls for Santos to be thrown out of the House for his fabrications raise thorny questions about the potential for punishing speech. Removal after being convicted of theft, on the other hand, is much easier.