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Rep. George Santos Brands Indictment a 'Witch Hunt' After Pleading Not Guilty to 13 Federal Charges

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May 10 2023, Published 6:18 p.m. ET

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Scandal-ridden New York Representative George Santos branded his indictment a "witch hunt" after he pleaded not guilty to 13 federal charges, RadarOnline.com has learned.

Even before he took office, the first-term congressman was surrounded by controversy, including being exposed for fabricating his resume and personal history, and his stint as a drag queen.

According to the Department of Justice, Santos was officially charged with fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and false statements.

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On Wednesday afternoon, Santos spoke for the first time since he was arrested after entering his plea. Clearly flustered, Santos greeted a swarm of reporters with a vow to clear his name as he noted he had been "compliant throughout this entire process."

"I have no desire not to comply at this point," Santos told reporters. "Now I'm going to have to go and fight to defend myself."

The Republican lawmaker then pulled a line from ex-president Donald Trump's book, labeling the indictment as a "witch hunt."

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"The reality is, is it's a witch hunt," Santos continued. "Because it makes no sense that in 4 months, 5 months, I'm indicted."

When questioned about an allegation that he fraudulently applied for COVID-era unemployment benefits despite having a $120,000 salary, Santos denied it and claimed to have evidence to support his innocence.

"During the pandemic, it wasn’t very clear. I don’t understand where the government’s getting their information, but I will present my facts," the freshman lawmaker said. "My employment was changed during the time, I don’t understand where the government’s coming from."

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Despite calls from critics and colleagues to step down amid numerous allegations, the embattled congressman refused to resign and confirmed that he would continue forward with his re-election campaign. When asked if he thought he was deserving of winning re-election given his current legal concerns, Santos said it was up to voters.

"That's not up for me to know," Santos told reporters. "Elections are very tricky. It's up to the people. I trust them to decide what's best."

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According to CNN, Santos was released on a $500,000 bond and required to turn over his passport to authorities.

The congressman is allowed to travel to and from Long Island, New York, and Washington D.C., but is required to seek permission from pretrial services for additional travel.

Santos' next scheduled court date is set for June 30.

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