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Republican George Santos becomes first House member expelled in more than 20 years

The House of Representatives on Friday voted to expel Republican Rep. George Santos, a historic move that hasn't happened in more than 20 years.

Santos, scandal-ridden since arriving in Washington nearly a year ago, is just the sixth House member in history to be removed by his colleagues.

They voted to do so despite Santos, while indicted, not being convicted of a crime -- what he and his supporters argued in making the case against expulsion. Santos has pleaded not guilty to 23 charges, which include wire fraud and money laundering, with a trial set for 2024.

MORE: History shows House expulsions are rare. Will GOP Rep. George Santos join the list?

PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC.  (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The final vote to expel him was 311-114, with 112 Republicans voting with Democrats, far eclipsing the two-thirds majority threshold needed. Speaker Mike Johnson, who just before the vote announced his opposition, presided over the tally.

"The whole number of the House is now 434," Johnson said.

Santos left the chamber and the Capitol before the final vote was announced, swarmed by reporters as he jumped in a waiting car.

PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

His removal comes two weeks after a scathing House Ethics Committee report detailed what investigators said was Santos' use of campaign funds for his own personal benefit. Santos repeatedly criticized the report as political smear, though he did not refute specific allegations.

Momentum grew to oust Santos after the report's publication, but at one point earlier Friday it appeared House Republican leaders might be able to save him.

Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer and No. 3 House Republican Elise Stefanik all said they would be voting against the resolution just moments before it reached the floor, though Johnson said he encouraged members to vote their conscience.

MORE: Why George Santos was too toxic for the House GOP

"No Member of Congress has ever been expelled without a conviction; this is a dangerous precedent and I am voting no based upon my concerns regarding due process. I have said from the beginning that this process will play out in the judicial system which it currently is," Stefanik wrote in a post to X.

Rep. Darrell Issa told ABC News ahead of the vote it was a coin toss whether Santos survived.

“If I were going to handicap it, I’d give him slightly better than 50-50,” Issa predicted.

PHOTO: Rep. George Santos  leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. George Santos leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., was dismayed by the vote, saying Congress is a "political body, not a judicial body" -- given that Santos hadn't been convicted of a crime.

Santos had previously argued he was denied due process.

"Every member expelled in history of this institution has been convicted of crimes or Confederate turncoats guilty of treason. Neither of those apply to me, but here we are," Santos said during a spirited debate on the House floor on Thursday. "On what basis does this body feel that precedent must be changed for me? An American citizen, duly elected -- elected to represent the 3rd district of New York."

Some lawmakers, as they exited a conference meeting ahead of Friday's vote, echoed Santos's defense that he has not been convicted and that the two most recent members to be expelled were first convicted.

"It doesn't mean I'm claiming that he's innocent or guilty, but that's the way it's always been done for the institution's sake," Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., said.

Republican Rep. Michael Guest, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee who also previously introduced a separate motion to expel Santos, made notably rare remarks to defend the report during Thursday's debate.

"George Santos has built his persona, his personal and political life, on a foundation of lies," Guest said.

MORE: George Santos has been expelled from Congress. Here's how his replacement will be chosen

ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott asked Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, a fellow New York Republican who led the charge in ousting Santos, if Santos' expulsion sets a new precedent.

"The precedent is that we are holding members of Congress to a higher standard," D'Esposito responded.

PHOTO: Rep. George Santos  is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC.  (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

House Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries, in a statement, celebrated that "Santos has finally been held accountable by a strong bipartisan majority for his egregiously unprecedented, unethical and unlawful behavior."

"It is unfortunate that George Santos was coddled for so long by the House Republican Conference," Jeffries wrote. "Today represents an important step forward in ensuring that the House of Representatives has a basic standard of professionalism as we endeavor to solve problems on behalf of hardworking American taxpayers. We must continue to strive for the restoration of regular order."

PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Santos' expulsion will present something of a political headache for House Republican leadership, which could be left with one fewer vote in their already narrow majority.

New York law gives Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, power to schedule a special election to fill Santos' swing seat. Hochul has 10 days from being notified of a vacancy to announce a special election, which then has to take place within 80 days.

PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, D. C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. George Santos is surrounded by journalists as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2023 in Washington, D. C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

ABC News' Arthur Jones, Benjamin Siegel, John Parkinson, Rachel Scott and Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

Republican George Santos becomes first House member expelled in more than 20 years originally appeared on abcnews.go.com