Feds Now Using George Santos’ Big Mouth Against Him

Drew Angerer
Drew Angerer
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Ex-Rep. George Santos is once again coming face-to-face with his own worst enemy—himself.

Lawyers for the truth-challenged former New York lawmaker asked the judge in his fraud case to yank the “confidential” label off material they call “highly exculpatory” that the government produced in the case, arguing that not letting Santos talk about it publicly would violate “his First Amendment right to offer brief insight into his defense.”

The government dismissed the defense’s suggestion this material would “exonerate,” and practically laughed at the argument that the automatic confidentiality that both sides in the court fight previously agreed to has in any way constrained the Republican’s right to free expression.

“As an initial matter, Santos has been uninhibited in exercising his First Amendment rights, including in making statements to the press about this matter, and has repeatedly outlined the nature of his defense, including during an impromptu press conference he convened outside the courthouse on the day he was arrested,” the filing reads.

The legal brief then links out to nationally televised interviews the accused conducted with CBS and with CNN, and quotes six different remarks he made outlining elements of his defense, including denials and pleas of ignorance into the allegations of extensive fraud in his campaign filings. It goes on to accuse him of looking to score more media hits and possibly taint the jury pool.

“Setting aside Santos’s self-serving mischaracterization of the disclosures as ‘exonerating’ him in any way, his attempt to selectively weaponize discovery materials to influence public opinion on this matter—including prospective jurors—is entirely inappropriate,” the document says. “It is a transparent effort to litigate this matter in the press rather than in the courtroom.”

Santos is due to stand trial later this year on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, theft, making false statements to Congress, illegal campaign contributions, and stealing supporters’ financial information. The Santos team has sought a 30-day extension to submit pre-trial filings, insisting they’ve had insufficient time to make use of the prosecutors’ disclosures. In the same filing on Wednesday, prosecutors called this claim “absurd”—noting one of the disclosures that the Santos team claimed they received late was in fact filed six months ago.

Further, they noted that the Santos argument “over the course of four single-spaced pages, fails to cite any case, statute, or other legal authority favoring his position.”

“Santos has had ample time to make use of the information before filing his motions, and he has not credibly claimed otherwise,” the Justice Department team wrote.

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