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Santos to make surprise appearance at Capitol for State of the Union

Former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) will make a surprise appearance at the Capitol Thursday for President Biden’s State of the Union address, two sources familiar confirmed to The Hill, roughly three months after he was expelled from the House in a historic, bipartisan vote.

Despite being expelled in December, Santos retains privileges to access the House floor. It is unclear if he will sit on the floor or in the public gallery.

Santos’s trip to Capitol Hill for the annual speech marks the first time he is back in the building since his ouster late last year, he told Fox News.

“It’s the State of the Union, why not,” he said when asked why he decided to return. “It’s a privilege.”

The House voted 311-114-2 to oust Santos on Dec. 1, making him the sixth lawmaker in history to be booted from the lower chamber. On his way out of the chamber during that vote, he told reporters “to hell with this place.”

His expulsion — which was successful on the third attempt to remove him from office — came after he was charged with 23 criminal counts connected to allegations that he misled donors, fraudulently received unemployment benefits, and charged his donors’ credit cards without authorization.

Santos has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to go to trial in September.

The final straw in his congressional career, however, was the release of a damning report from the House Ethics Committee that said he “violated federal criminal laws.”

Thursday’s State of the Union will be the second time Santos has listened to the annual speech in the House chamber. Last year, he drew headlines before the speech after having a heated encounter with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on the House floor.

“I don’t know the exact words I said. He shouldn’t have been there. Look, he’s a sick puppy. He shouldn’t have been there,” Romney told reporters after the speech, speaking about Santos.

“I don’t think he ought to be in Congress, and he certainly shouldn’t be in the aisle trying to shake the hand of the president of the United States and dignitaries coming in. It’s an embarrassment,” he added.

Santos responded, “I think it’s reprehensible the senator would say such a thing to me. … It wasn’t very Mormon of him.”

In November, one day before his expulsion, Santos said he was not sure if he would ever return to the Capitol to use his floor privileges, but he noted it would not happen soon.

“I don’t know,” Santos told a small group of reporters during an interview when asked if he would ever make an appearance in the Capitol again. “Not in the near future, I don’t believe.”

“It’s [a] sour relationship with a lot of people in the body, so I don’t think I would come back to this format of Congress,” he added.

Santos told Fox News on Thursday that he met with a bipartisan group of his former colleagues before the speech. Asked how it is to be back in the Capitol, Santos said: “it’s different.”

“Definitely the People’s House, it’s always a humbling experience and it’s always great to be back,” he added.

Pressed on if it would be his last time returning to the building, he said: “I don’t know.”

Updated at 7:55 p.m.

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