Scandal-plagued New York Republican Congressmember George Santos pleaded not responsible to 13 federal costs at a courthouse on Lengthy Island Wednesday. He’s charged with wire fraud, cash laundering, mendacity on federal disclosure types, and fraudulently accumulating unemployment advantages whereas incomes a $120,000 wage. Santos has been beneath investigation since his election to Congress final yr uncovered his historical past as a serial liar who fabricated his academic background, employment historical past and faith. He has to date refused to step down and has denied the allegations in opposition to him. We speak to Mom Jones reporter Noah Lanard, who was within the courtroom and says this indictment is just the start of Santos’s authorized troubles.
This can be a rush transcript. Copy will not be in its remaining type.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Struggle and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
The scandal-plagued New York Republican Congressmember George Santos pleaded not responsible to 13 federal costs at a courthouse on Lengthy Island Wednesday. He faces seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of cash laundering, two counts of mendacity on federal disclosure types, and one depend of fraudulently accumulating unemployment advantages. Santos spoke to reporters after he was launched on $500,000 bond simply hours after turning himself in to the Central Islip court docket.
REP. GEORGE SANTOS: I’m going to struggle the witch hunt. I’m going to maintain clearing my title. And I sit up for doing that.
REPORTER: Why would you apply for unemployment advantages while you had a job making $120,000 a yr?
REP. GEORGE SANTOS: Rachel, that is a part of my protection. That is inaccurate data, and I’ll get to clear my title on this. Throughout the pandemic, it wasn’t very clear. I don’t perceive the place the federal government’s getting their data, from however I’ll current my details.
REPORTER: The prosecutors say that you just acquired over $20,000 in unemployment advantages, sir. How is it acceptable?
REP. GEORGE SANTOS: Ma’am, like I mentioned, my employment was modified in the course of the time. I don’t perceive the place the federal government’s coming from. I’ll current my protection to that.
AMY GOODMAN: After his profitable 2022 marketing campaign for Congress, Santos — if that’s his title — was uncovered as a serial liar who fabricated his academic background, employment historical past and faith. A couple of dozen Home and Senate Republicans have known as for Santos to resign, together with quite a few Republicans, however that doesn’t embrace Republican Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who mentioned he’ll wait to see if Santos is convicted. McCarthy spoke to CNN’s Manu Raju Wednesday.
MANU RAJU: Santos, I believe, is working for reelection. Are you going to help him?
SPEAKER KEVIN McCARTHY: No, I’m not going to help Santos.
MANU RAJU: You’re not. OK.
SPEAKER KEVIN McCARTHY: No.
MANU RAJU: So, will you’re employed to attempt to defeat him within the major?
SPEAKER KEVIN McCARTHY: Santos has lots happening, so I believe he has different issues to concentrate on in his life than working for [inaudible].
REPORTER: So that you don’t plan to help Santos for reelection?
SPEAKER KEVIN McCARTHY: That’s what I mentioned.
AMY GOODMAN: Republican leaders see Santos’s vote as essential within the Home, the place the social gathering holds a slim four-vote majority.
If convicted, Santos may withstand 20 years in jail. One other prison case is looming in opposition to Santos in Brazil, the place he faces a listening to immediately on an allegation of test fraud. In the meantime, in one other case involving Santos, CREW — that’s Residents for Duty and Ethics in Washington — filed a grievance Wednesday with the Federal Election Fee that claims Santos’s at present listed marketing campaign treasurer might not exist. CREW President Noah Bookbinder mentioned, “Nobody can appear to search out Andrew Olson. If he doesn’t exist, it will be an excessive abuse of our marketing campaign finance system — one the FEC mustn’t allow.”
For extra on all this, we’re joined by Mom Jones reporter Noah Lanard, who was within the courtroom in Central Islip as Santos pleaded not responsible. His newest piece is headlined “Santos Indictment Leaves Many Lies, Mysteries, and Scandals Unaddressed.” Earlier this yr, Noah and reporter David Corn did a story headlined “We Tried to Name the Prime Donors to George Santos’ 2020 Marketing campaign. Many Don’t Appear to Exist.”
Noah Lanard, welcome to Democracy Now! Simply lay out each what occurred in court docket yesterday — you have been there on Lengthy Island — after which what you could have present in your investigations of this mendacity Lengthy Island congressmember.
NOAH LANARD: Yeah. Thanks for having me on.
So, sure, I used to be within the courtroom yesterday. Santos was arraigned. He had U.S. marshals behind him. He pleaded not responsible to all of the counts along with his lawyer Joe Murray there. After which there was $500,000 bond posted. After which they went to another particulars. He surrendered his passport, for instance. He’s not allowed to journey outdoors of Lengthy Island, New York, or D.C. with out the federal government’s approval previous to. After which, it was a really fast listening to. He left the courtroom, and there was simply an enormous media scrum, dozens, scores of reporters swarming him, after which the clips that you just performed earlier within the present.
However what we discovered earlier within the yr was that, I imply, like a lot of his story, so most of the issues he’s achieved are blatantly, you understand, not what regular candidates do. Lots of his donors don’t appear to exist. And what’s superb about this indictment is that they’ve managed — the federal prosecutors have a really sturdy 13-count indictment, but it surely nonetheless doesn’t even handle most of the largest mysteries about him. I spoke with Santos’s lawyer Joe Murray after the listening to, and I requested him about the potential for a follow-up indictment with further costs, and he mentioned that typically does occur. I wouldn’t be stunned to see that right here, as a result of what you don’t see on this indictment is quite a lot of the issues associated to his marketing campaign finance practices. We nonetheless don’t know the place he acquired the greater than $700,000 he loaned his marketing campaign, you understand, the place that cash got here from. Did he even mortgage that cash to his marketing campaign? So, there are quite a lot of issues we nonetheless don’t know that we’ll be discovering out, doubtlessly, in future indictments.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Noah, what about the truth that this bond, $500,000 — the place did that come from?
NOAH LANARD: So, my perceive is it’s an unsecured bond. He additionally has three folks, suretors, who’re, you understand, endorsing it. So he’s out now. However, sure, he’s principally very restricted. He can solely go between New York and D.C. And he’s voluntarily agreed to these situations for now.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I wish to ask you about what he means within the Home, that Kevin McCarthy nonetheless has his arms principally wrapped round him. He wants him. Sure, the Republicans have a four-vote majority, however when it got here all the way down to the debt ceiling vote, he was the deciding vote, one vote. That was Consultant George Santos, or whoever he’s. Are you able to speak about his significance within the Home and what the Home may do? I imply, the native conservative Republican Lengthy Island congressmembers, to not point out the vast majority of Republicans in his district, have known as for him to resign.
NOAH LANARD: Yeah, I believe there’s form of a pleasant association that’s understanding proper now, the place, you understand, principally you could have significantly downstate, New York Metropolis space and Lengthy Island Republicans very strongly calling for him to resign. This can be a enormous embarrassment for them. They know they’re working for reelection subsequent yr, they usually don’t need in any respect to be related to George Santos. On the opposite aspect, greater up in management, McCarthy and different Republicans in Home management know that they want his vote. They will’t afford to not have it. So, it looks as if there’s form of an association, formally or not, that’s been labored out, the place the downstate Republicans get to say very imply issues about Santos and say that he ought to step down, however on the identical time realizing it’s actually not going to go anyplace, a minimum of for now, a minimum of till, doubtlessly, a conviction or a plea deal on this case.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Noah, may you speak about Nancy Marks, George Santos’s marketing campaign treasurer, and the way she was complicit in what he’s — his numerous types of prison conduct?
NOAH LANARD: Sure. I believe this can be a crucial a part of the story. She’s not within the indictment, which is a fairly apparent factor that’s lacking. And clearly, that’s intentional. What’s unclear is whether or not that’s as a result of she’s speaking to federal prosecutors proper now or as a result of she’s not speaking. It could possibly be both.
However the important thing a part of it right here is that she’s the individual, aside from Santos, who virtually actually is aware of probably the most about what was happening along with his marketing campaign finance practices. For instance, she’s the one who signed off on a big sequence of $199.99 bills, which is one cent beneath the federal threshold wanted to maintain receipts. So, she’s the individual signing off on that. She additionally had her 19- and 22-year-old youngsters give authorized most donations of $5,800 to Santos. Lots of her kinfolk did the identical. There’s no proof they’d ever given political contributions earlier than Santos’s marketing campaign. I spoke to a minimum of one Santos relative who was reported as giving $5,800, they usually mentioned that they didn’t give that donation. So these are issues that Marks would have been conscious of, and Marks additionally would have been conscious of — or ought to have been conscious of the truth that she was reporting most donations within the 2020 marketing campaign from individuals who didn’t — who virtually actually don’t exist. I imply, for instance, they have been dwelling at addresses in New York Metropolis that don’t exist. That they had names that no person in the USA has that title. However in some instances, the title was similar to a few of Santos’s kinfolk, with only one or two letters modified.
So, you understand, there’s a ton of suspicious issues that she is concerned in, and it’s attainable that she’s cooperating, goes to return to a plea deal after which give even — which is able to result in much more indictments for Santos, or, if she doesn’t, she could also be going through an indictment of her personal.
AMY GOODMAN: If you happen to may, in a short time, Noah, speak about what he’s charged with, these instances? However then, additionally, does his announcement that he’s working for reelection, is — in a roundabout way, means he can get more cash for himself, since a part of that is the fraud of elevating cash for his election, however then he makes use of it for himself?
NOAH LANARD: Yeah, so, on the primary half — there are principally three components of this indictment. The primary is probably the most severe. It principally represents that Santos was telling folks that there was a 501(c)(4) nonprofit supporting his marketing campaign. He was going to a few of his largest donors, saying, “Hey, give cash to this group.” They did. It turned out it was truly an organization that he managed primarily based out of Florida, after which he siphoned the cash out of the corporate and purchased luxurious items, paid off his automotive, and so forth. So, that’s a fairly easy one. The opposite is that he utilized for unemployment insurance coverage in the course of the pandemic whereas he was working at what the SEC has known as a Ponzi scheme. So, he acquired about $25,000 of unemployment insurance coverage. After which, the third half is that he lied on two — allegedly lied on two congressional disclosure types, misstating his earnings and belongings. So, these are the primary issues which might be within the indictment there
AMY GOODMAN: And CREW, what they’ve introduced ahead yesterday concerning the nonexistence of the — of what? His marketing campaign treasurer?
NOAH LANARD: Yeah. So, he says — you understand, Nancy Marks principally eliminated herself or stepped down as treasurer, and now you could have Andrew — this individual, Andrew Olson, is the treasurer. Individually from CREW and previously, I’ve tried to search out Andrew Olson. If Andrew Olson is listening, I might love to talk with him. I’ve not discovered any proof of who this Andrew Olson could be or if it’s a actual individual, and CREW has not, as nicely. I imply, Andrew Olson just isn’t a treasurer for every other Republican campaigns or committees or something in politics. And he’s listed at an handle that may be a Santos household handle previously. So, there is rather like so many components of the Santos story, many questions on who Andrew Olson is, if that’s his actual title.
AMY GOODMAN: Now we have 10 seconds. Which comes first, Election Day, when he’s working, or a trial or a settlement?
NOAH LANARD: I’d say trial or settlement. And I believe George Santos is absolutely hoping to retain the life rights in order that he can promote this. He talked about a ebook yesterday.
AMY GOODMAN: Noah Lanard, reporter at Mom Jones. We’ll hyperlink to your pieces, together with your latest, “Santos Indictment Leaves Many Lies, Mysteries, and Scandals Unaddressed.”
Developing, we bear in mind the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, shot lifeless one yr in the past immediately by Israeli forces within the occupied West Financial institution. Stick with us.
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