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Senator hires an indicted and ousted representative to troll an indicted senator

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., paid recently expelled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., to record a video message aimed at Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. Like Santos, Menendez is under a federal indictment.
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Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., paid recently expelled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., to record a video message aimed at Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. Like Santos, Menendez is under a federal indictment.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., is calling out what he says is a double standard in Congress, hiring former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., to record a video message aimed at Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Days after the House of Representatives voted to expel Santos, the former congressman has already taken up a side gig recording personalized videos for a fee on the Cameo website. One of his first customers, it seems, was Fetterman, who then posted the video Santos recorded on Instagram.

"I thought my ethically-challenged colleague @senatormenendez could use some encouragement given his substantial legal problems," Fetterman said of the video he commissioned. "So, I approached a seasoned expert on the matter to give 'Bobby from Jersey' some advice."

Like the recently expelled Santos, Menendez is facing calls to resign from colleagues who say the charges alleged in a 39-page federal indictment are proof enough that the lawmaker is a crook. The charges against Santos center on rampant fraud; those against Menendez allege rampant bribery.

Both Santos and Menendez have pleaded not guilty to the federal crimes they're accused of.

Fetterman has repeatedly called on Menendez to resign, even comparing him to fictional mob boss Tony Soprano. But in the short video Fetterman shared, Santos tells Menendez to do what he did: refuse to resign and demand that his opponents "put up or shut up."

"Hey, Bobby!" Santos says with a smile. "Look, I don't think I need to tell you, but: These people that want to make you get in trouble and want to kick you out and make you run away — you make them put up or shut up. You stand your ground, sir, and don't get bogged down by all the haters out there. Stay strong. Merry Christmas!"

In a follow-up message on the social media platform X, Santos urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to expel Menendez.

"Hey @chuckschumer the precedent exists now... how about showing him the door before his due process?" Santos wrote.

As for Fetterman's one-off hiring of Santos, NBC News reported that the cost amounted to $200, with the money coming out of Fetterman's campaign funds.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.