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Santos’ case in Brazil adds new pressure to Republican leaders

The good news for Republican Rep. George Santos is that his legal mess in Brazil has apparently been resolved. The bad news is he just confessed to theft.


When Rep. George Santos was indicted by the Justice Department this week, it created a serious new problem for the New York Republican, which could lead to a lengthy prison sentence. But it’s hardly the congressman’s only area of trouble: Santos is also facing local, state, and ethics investigations.

And then, of course, there’s the international issue.

The New York Times reported late last year that court records in Brazil showed that Santos, as a young adult, was accused of stealing a checkbook from a man his mother cared for. The future congressman apparently confessed to the crime in 2008 and was later charged. Santos did not, however, respond to an official summons; a court representative could not find him at his given address; and a local prosecutor told the newspaper that the matter was unresolved. In January, Brazilian law enforcement authorities said they intended to revive the fraud charges against Santos since they'd learned of his whereabouts.

When The New York Post asked about the case, Santos was categorical. “I am not a criminal here — not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world,” he said. “Absolutely not. That didn’t happen.”

Now, evidently, the Republican is saying something different. The Washington Post reported:

Rep. George Santos signed a deal with Brazilian prosecutors Thursday in which the New York Republican confessed to theft and agreed to pay restitution and fines if prosecutors agree to drop the criminal case against him, bringing a likely resolution in a case that has tailed the embattled politician for more than a decade.

According to the Post’s account, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, Santos participated in virtual court proceedings yesterday. In light of his confession, if he pays a modest financial penalty within 30 days, the case will be dismissed.

As far as the congressman’s lawyer is concerned, the matter is resolved. “My client is no longer facing any charges in Brazil,” Jonymar Vasconcelos told the Post.

The article added that the deal means Santos “won’t have to fight criminal prosecution in two countries.”

That’s the good news. The bad news is, the GOP lawmaker, already in a world of legal and political trouble, just confessed in court to theft.

The developments led Rep. Ted Lieu of California, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, to publish a statement via social media overnight, pressing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to take action now that Santos has “confessed to a crime.”

It’s hardly an unreasonable appeal. McCarthy said in January that party leaders would be prepared to take additional steps if the Santos fiasco rose “to a legal level.” Not to put too fine a point on this, but the prolific liar has now been arrested and volunteered a confession in an entirely different case.

Those sound like “legal levels” to me.

As we discussed yesterday, GOP leaders will almost certainly ignore the news because they need Santos to bolster their tiny legislative majority. But the fact remains that the developments in Brazil yesterday didn’t do the far-right House Republican conference any favors.