Some of George Santos’ Alleged Crimes Resemble Trump’s Suspected Crimes

DOJ has released the indictment against George Santos.

The charges are:

1-5: Fraudulent political contribution scheme

6-8: Money laundering of false donations

9: Theft of public money

10-11: Wire fraud tied to unemployment payments

12-13: False statements in Congressional disclosure report

The most interesting charges are 1-5:

Effectively, DOJ accuses Santos of telling two donors their money would support his candidacy when instead he was pocketing the money.

This is the same theory behind the Build the Wall fraud, where Bannon et al raised money promising to build a wall and instead spent it on their own personal expenses. Bannon et al were charged with conspiracy to violate 18 USC 1343, whereas Santos was charged with 1343 himself. And Santos was charged on a different money laundering statute (18 USC 1957(a) and (b) versus 1956). But the theory is the same.

The scam — directing political donations to a private company — is the same scam that Daily Beast recently reported Herschel Walker to have engaged in.

More interesting, though, given the speed with which some Republicans have denounced Santos, this is close to the same theory behind the financial part of the investigation into Trump. He is suspected of soliciting funds for use on voter security and instead spent it on his legal fees and other expenses.

There’s at least one obvious difference though: Santos falsely claimed that “Company #1” was a 501(c)(4). It was no such thing. There’s no reason to doubt that Trump’s PACs are what they say they are.

But for that significant difference, a bunch of Republicans are condemning the same kind of solicitation fraud for which Trump is currently being investigated.

48 replies
  1. Rugger_9 says:

    Defendant-1 can still do something for the GOP types even if it is only to keep the howling MAGA mob quiescent against them. Santos on the other hand cannot do a damn thing for the GOP except show up for floor votes. He’s toxic otherwise, not even worth bringing on NewsMax much less Faux News.

    So, that would be the difference.

  2. John Paul Jones says:

    As I read through, I was wondering – why would he continue to fraudulently collect unemployment benefits if (as reported) he had received $750,000 from mysterious sources? So far as the figures listed in the indictment go, it seems he never had those vast funds; just George lying again, puffing himself up, presenting an image of success to the world.

  3. punaise says:

    Jumping ahead, assuming this knucklehead is eventually a goner from Congress (standard caveat about presumption of innocence )… hoping for a special election in which Dems have a pretty good chance of recapturing the seat.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      The fact that Santos flipped a seat by itself should have made him a RWNM media darling, but as we’ve seen nobody will touch him.

      Defendant-1 on the other hand is getting a ‘town hall’ on CNN that is a network trying very hard to be Faux.

      • Hebmskebm says:

        Yeah this is my neck of the woods. I live next door in NY-04 but I work in NY-03. This district (both actually) were represented by Democrats for pretty much the entirety of this century. Unfortunately Long Island was one of the few places the Red Wave actually materialized (thanks to incessant negative tabloid reporting about crime in NYC).

        • Norskeflamthrower says:

          As I understand it, the old Cuomo Democratic party blew it in 2022 and lost 5 very winnable seats. Is that correct.

          • Hebmskebm says:

            Yes. All were won by Biden in 2020. The state party was limp and inert all campaign long; they essentially decided early on a Red Wave was inevitable and left all of their purple/light blue seats out to dry. Although it was gratifying to see one of the architects of such a brilliant strategy, Sean Patrick Maloney, lose his seat as well. Apparently Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s sister is running to win that district back in 2024.

            Of course, the wild card in all of this is the ability of the state legislature (still Dem supermajority despite the wave) to redraw the Congressional lines, something the State Court of Appeals (equivalent to State Supreme Court in other states) may grant them. I’ve seen maps that could take the current 15-11 composition of NY’s House delegation and make it 22-4 in a neutral year. In case that makes you feel queasy, just know Republicans are gearing up to do the exact same thing in NC and OH next cycle. Gotta fight fire with fire wherever possible.

            • BruceF says:

              The Republicans judge shopped and found a guy who ruled in their favor on proposed redistricting. The ruling intentionally came so late in election cycle it left no time for a Democratic response. An appeal is in work that may reopen this matter and result in a map more similar to that proposed by Democratic legislative majority. The Dems got out maneuvered on redistricting and left themselves open on crime through their efforts to reform cash bail!

  4. Fancy Chicken says:

    Ahhhh, I was hoping for this. My brain is so pollen muddled right now I didn’t even bother to try to read the indictment. Thank you as always.

  5. Rwood0808 says:

    When I saw this I thought, he’s basically Trump, only without the Grifter-U education he got from his Daddy and Roy Cohn.

    • NerdyCanuck says:

      And the seed funding (aka all the $$ funneled to him through his Dad’s companies and various trusts to avoid inheritance/gift taxes)…

      Whereas Santos doesn’t seem to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth… So at least he can actually claim to be a self-made [con] man, right?

    • lemoco says:

      The not so talented Mr. Ripley.

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  6. joel fisher says:

    Dare one mention that Santos’ obvious public crimes are–for the most part–less than a year old, whereas, tfg’s are 2 and a half years.? Sure, Garland and the Justice Dept. must really be on fire when they think of the threat Santos presents to the country. But, tfg, more investigation, more research, more important work must be done before even thinking about a charging decision.

    • emptywheel says:


      You’ve described the far greater challenges for charging a President for acts committed as President than a schlub for acts before he becomes a member of Congress. Not to mention there are 100 people willing to risk prison to lie for Trump on the stand. Where are those 100 people for Santos?

        • JohnJJSchmidt says:

          Just a commendation, you two and your cohorts here have been the only group that understood what the time line would likely be of all this legal activity. I read a lot about what is going on, but always come back here for a more grounded take on the latest stuff.

          • Ravenous hoarde says:

            After reading about “treason” and “sedition”, her commentary on 1512 was so reassuring.

            A bunch of numpties were making big pronouncements but providing zero basis for them.

            Reading about 1512 made think she was a lawyer for the longest time.

            Cause lord knows the tv lawyers weren’t doing a very good job communicating for the most part.

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      • joel fisher says:

        Did you miss the fact that plenty of stop the steal money–to name one felony–was collected by private citizen Trump, not President Trump? I get that I’m a moron, I just don’t know why; perhaps it’s the nature of my moronness.

  7. punaise says:

    Georgy-porgy, pudding and lies,
    Scammed the donors and made them cry.
    When the Feds came out to play,
    Georgy-porgy got put away.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      And then Georgy-porgy had his pudding eaten by Ron DeSantis with his fingers.

  8. MsJennyMD says:

    George Santos, tweeted on October 28, 2022, 4:44 PM

    “The Democrats soft-on-crime policies emptied our jails, eliminated cash bail, and essentially given criminals a get-out-of-jail-free card. As your Congressman, I will ensure that criminals are sent to prison to do their time.”

  9. AirportCat says:

    I guess this news should probably worry Herschel Walker too, since as noted he was engaging in the same kind of behavior.

  10. vigetnovus says:

    Couple of odd things that stood out to me in the indictment. As Marcy mentioned, and I had the very same thought myself while reading, this is exactly the same framework you could use against Trump for the financial component of J6 and campaign contributions. If Jack Smith can prove Trump KNEW there was no election fraud, that’s enough for wire fraud for soliciting campaign contributions that are purported to be used in fighting “election fraud”.

    But, interestingly in Santos’ case, and likely differently in Trump’s, it appears that the GJ Witness (Person #1) may ACTUALLY not have known that Company #1 was not a 501(c)(4) and that Santos did not intend to use these funds for his campaign. If that person did, then I think DOJ would have charged a wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud aid and abetting itself instead of just simple wire fraud aid and abetting (that’s 18 USC 2, for those playing along at home). The other possibility is that Person #1 is a cooperating witness who has proffered and received immunity for wire fraud and conspiracy, so lawyers correct me if I’m wrong, but if he’s the only other conspirator then charging Santos with conspiracy would be difficult since his defense could impeach the cooperating witness.

    The other kind of strange thing about this indictment is that they only charged 2 counts of wire fraud for pandemic-enhanced unemployment insurance when according to the alleged facts laid out, they could have easily charged weeks and weeks of wire fraud counts (he was getting unemployment assistance from June 2020 through April 2021 on a weekly basis). Why did they only charge 2 weeks in January 2021? And I get why not charging *all* the weeks, but why those 2 in particular? Is there something about that time period around the inauguration? Does it have to do with what time frames his bank account #2 was subpoenaed for?

    All in all, I have many questions. I feel like this is the opposite of a speaking indictment and that this investigation is very much ongoing and the indictment likely will be superseded if Santos doesn’t cooperate. Was this just a shot across the bow at House Republicans by DOJ?

    • Ravenous hoarde says:

      Santos was in DC for 1/6. Attended congressional freshman orientation. I think he even had a fake recount committee going.

      Not that I can think if how that ties together honestly.

  11. Russ k says:

    Dark money funding a puppet to vote a certain way, and he is too stupid to realize he is being played

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  12. jecojeco says:

    Assuming he’s actually guilty of most of these I assume DOJ is negotiating a quick resignation from his seat in exchange for some leniency in order to get the nutjob out of a position where he can continue doing some harm. And his MAGA wingnut compatriots are pumping him up to fight like hell, trump will pardon him if he holds out. And his lawyer, will they be out of the trump/MAGA stable, a parking garage attorney?

    George is getting a lot more than he bargained for with his upset win, kind of like trump. If they had lost they could have continued grifting, maybe without ever getting caught. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

  13. Dean Surkin says:

    Excellent article, but I want to point out there is such a thing as §501(c)(4), which applies to civic leagues and employee organizations whose earnings are devoted to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. Subparagraph (c)(4)(B) says no part of the earnings shall inure to the benefit of a private shareholder or individual. Santos’s entity definitely cannot qualify for tax exemption.

    • Peterr says:

      From the post: ” Santos falsely claimed that “Company #1” was a 501(c)(4). It was no such thing.”

      Marcy isn’t saying “there’s no such thing as a 501(c)(4)” — she’s saying Company #1 was not a 501(c)(4).

      • RipNoLonger says:

        Peterr – I think you and Dean Surkin are in agreement. Sometimes reading sentences with dependent clauses can get a bit confusing.

        • theartistvvv says:

          mmmm, that depends …

          (Very happy to try a “depend” joke that doesn’t rely on incontinence.)

  14. ChuffyM says:

    (Rayne, added a character to my username to help out with your efforts)

    I heard on a talk show that Santos CAN’T resign, because he’s broke and has no other way to earn income. That tracks. Just another grifter…

  15. Chuffles says:

    (sorry, second attempt at an actual 8 characters)

    I heard on the radio that Santos can’t resign because he’s broke and has no other source of income. He is just another grifter, but IOKIYAR…

  16. Savage Librarian says:

    More insight into the grift that keeps on grifting:

    “Another Santos Money Mystery: He Struck a Curious Business Deal With a Veteran GOP Operative” – Noah Lanard and David Corn, 1/12/23
    “The bottom line: Red Strategies USA was controlled by Santos, four other Harbor City Capital alums, and [Nancy] Marks. With the exception of RIA, the firms that created Red Strategies USA—including the Devolder Organization—shared an address at a small office building in the Melbourne, Florida, neighborhood where Dames ran his business.”

    “A New York Republican strategist who knows Marks and who is familiar with Red Strategies USA says that Marks considered Santos “her favorite client” and that she went on multiple business trips to Florida with him.”

    “Soon after Santos and his colleagues set up Red Strategies USA, it began providing digital consulting and fundraising services to Tina Forte, a New York Republican running against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Forte was a QAnon-supporting MAGA activist—a self-described “deplorable”—who had attended the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.”

  17. Savage Librarian says:

    And for Trump, there is this:

    “Trust linked to porn-friendly bank could gain a stake in Trump’s Truth Social” – Drew Harwell, Matt Bernardini and Matei Rosca, May 13, 2023 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

    “ES Family Trust offered $8 million in loans to Trump Media in an unusual deal criticized for conflicts of interest”
    “Postolnikov, in March 2021, also gave $30,000 to the reelection campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)…”

    “…Postolnikov and his aunt, Smirnov’s wife, Elena Smirnova, previously worked together at Russia’s United Bureau of Credit History, according to Delovoy Peterburg…”

    “The Guardian reported in March that federal prosecutors in New York have been investigating whether the Trump Media loans violated money-laundering statutes, which mandate that companies and investment advisers take steps to learn basic information about their lenders and clients.”

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