Republican congressman George Santos has been expelled from the House of Representatives after a report found “overwhelming evidence” he misused campaign donations.
Mr Santos was ousted 311-114 in a bipartisan vote – only the sixth time a member has been kicked out of the House since it was founded in 1789.
Two-thirds of members must support the move – but an excoriating report by the House ethics committee that accused him of breaking federal law appeared to seal his fate.
The 35-year-old led his own defence on the floor of the House and said he would “not stand by quietly”.
Speaking the evening before the vote, he said: “The people of the Third District of New York sent me here. If they want me out, you’re going to have to go silence those people and go take the hard vote.”
Mr Santos argued it would set a precedent that would make expulsions more common.
Three previous cases involved disloyalty to the Union during the American Civil War, the remaining two were after politicians were convicted of federal crimes.
A congressional investigation found he charged his campaign account nearly $4,000 (£3,151) for spa treatments, including
He also spent more than $4,000 at designer store Hermes and made “smaller purchases” from the OnlyFans site – best known for sexual content.
As the outcome of Friday’s vote became clear, Mr Santos put his coat over his shoulders, shook hands with some members who voted against his expulsion and exited the chamber.
The House Speaker solemnly instructed a clerk to inform New York’s governor that his seat was now vacant.
Mr Santos was in his first term and had been previously feted as an exciting prospect after he flipped a district from the Democrats in November 2022.
But the committee launched a probe in March after reports he lied about having Jewish ancestry and his grandparents fleeing the Nazis, working at elite investment bank Goldman Sachs, and his college degree.
It lasted eight months and found “overwhelming evidence” of law-breaking – and Mr Santos has now admitted making up much of his biography.
The US attorney’s office indicted him in May, accusing him of cheating donors, laundering campaign funds for his own personal use, and lying to Congress.
It alleged he stole donors’ identities and used their credit cards to make tens of thousands in authorised charges.
Mr Santos has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his trial is scheduled for September 2024.
“Mr Santos is not a victim. He is a perpetrator of a massive fraud on his constituents and the American people,” said Susan Wild, the top Democrat on the ethics committee.
The last person to be kicked out of the House was Democrat James Traficant over a criminal corruption conviction in 2002.
New York state governor Kathy Hochul now has 10 days to call a special election for Mr Santos’s seat.
Ukraine war: Hundreds of new sanctions placed on Russia by US and EU after Alexei Navalny’s death
Hundreds of new sanctions have been placed on Russia by the US and the EU on the eve of the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine and a week after Alexei Navalny’s death.
Among those targeted by Washington’s more than 500 new sanctions are people involved in Mr Navalny’s imprisonment and three Russian officials the US has said are connected to his death.
The Russian opposition leader, who was a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell unconscious and died suddenly last Friday in an Arctic penal colony.
President Joe Biden, who has condemned the death, met Mr Navalny’s widow and daughter on Thursday.
The US Treasury sanctions target Russia and its war machine – in the largest number of restrictions imposed in one go since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.
The Biden administration imposed new trade restrictions on 93 entities from Russia, China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan, India and South Korea for supporting Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.
Putin ‘will pay an even steeper price’
The president said in a statement on Friday: “The American people and people around the world understand that the stakes of this fight extend far beyond Ukraine.
“If Putin does not pay the price for his death and destruction, he will keep going. And the costs to the United States – along with our Nato allies and partners in Europe and around the world – will rise.”
As well as targeting those associated with Mr Navalny, the US has also hit “Russia’s financial sector, defence industrial base, procurement networks and sanctions evaders across multiple continents”, Mr Biden said.
The penalties “will ensure Putin pays an even steeper price for his aggression abroad and repression at home,” he added.
The EU’s sanctions
The EU measures were against people and organisations it suspects of undermining Ukraine, focusing on “members of the judiciary, local politicians and people responsible for the illegal deportation and military re-education of Ukrainian children”.
It takes the total number of sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU to over 2,000, including some placed on Mr Putin and his associates.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the 106 sanctions against individuals and 88 aimed at “entities”, often companies, banks, government agencies or other organisations, showed the bloc’s “determination to dent Russia’s war machine and help Ukraine win its legitimate fight for self-defence”.
Companies making electronic components, which the EU believes could have military as well as civilian uses, were among 27 entities accused of “directly supporting Russia’s military and industrial complex in its war of aggression against Ukraine”, a statement said.
Those companies – including some based in India, Sri Lanka, China, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Thailand and Turkey – face tougher export restrictions.
The names should be published in a few days’ time.
Since the start of the war, the US has put more than 4,000 officials, oligarchs, firms, banks and others under Russia-related sanctions.
US lander successfully touches down on moon for first time in over 50 years
The Odysseus moon lander has successfully touched down.
The privately-owned Intuitive Machines’ lander is the first US lander to successfully touch down on the moon’s surface in more than 50 years – since the last of NASA’s Apollo programme in 1972.
It is also the first ever private craft to land on the moon.
There were claps in the Houston control room as landing success was confirmed after a few tense minutes.
“I know this was a nail-biter, but we are on the surface, and we are transmitting,” Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus said.
“Welcome to the moon.”
The team had to wait for confirmation that there was a signal before celebrating.
The lander was successfully launched aboard a SpaceX rocket last week.
Following the latest update: Moon landing live
NASA is the mission’s main sponsor, paying $118m (£93.5m) to put its experiments on board as part of a programme which could eventually see astronauts return to the moon later in the decade.
Odysseus is also carrying six other payloads from commercial companies.
It has landed closer to the moon’s south pole than any other craft.
The region has many more craters, cliffs and boulders than the equator, where the Apollo landings were in the 60s and 70s.
Scientists hope to find layers of ice, or perhaps Arctic-style permafrost, from which they can create hydration for astronauts – something which would enable them to stay for prolonged missions.
This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.
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Joe Biden calls Vladimir Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ – and the Kremlin reacts
Joe Biden has sparked a war of words with the Kremlin after he called Vladimir Putin a “crazy SOB” at a fundraiser.
Speaking at an event in San Francisco, the president fired a barb at his Russian counterpart while discussing the effects of climate change.
“This is the last existential threat. It is climate,” Mr Biden told donors in California.
“We have a crazy SOB like that guy Putin and others and we always have to worry about nuclear conflict, but the existential threat to humanity is climate.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response: “Has Mr Putin ever used one crude word to address you? This has never happened. Therefore, I think that such vocabulary debases America itself.”
He then called it a poor attempt to sound like a “Hollywood cowboy,” and added: “This is a disgrace for the country itself, I mean the United States.”
It’s not the first time Mr Biden has sworn at opponents, with the president caught on microphone calling a Fox News reporter a “stupid son of a bitch” during a White House press conference in January 2022.
The president has also, according to Sky’s US partner NBC News, called Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu an “asshole” on at least three occasions recently.
During the 2020 election, Mr Biden told a man he was “full of shit” in a row about gun control during a campaign stop in Detroit, Michigan, and later called him a “horse’s ass”.
After Mr Biden’s latest expletive in San Francisco, he turned his attention to Donald Trump over the former president comparing himself to Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who died at an Arctic penal colony last week.
“Some of the things that this fellow’s been saying, like he’s comparing himself to Navalny and saying that – because our country’s become a communist country, he was persecuted, just like Navalny was persecuted. I don’t know where the hell this comes from,” the president said.
“I mean, if I stood here 10, 15 years ago and said any of this, you’d all think I should be committed. It astounds me.”
Last week, the president blamed the “monster” Russian leader and “his thugs” for Mr Navalny’s death – which the Kremlin denies.
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