Former President Donald Trump and expelled former Rep. George Santos.

Former President Donald Trump and expelled former Rep. George Santos. Credit: AP, David Sharp, AFP via Getty Images/Mandel Ngan

On Monday, after Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses, those who still bother to keep tabs on ex-Rep. George Santos got to see the famed fabulist try to act like an online MAGA enforcer.

“Here are the names of the NY RINO’s who have not endorsed Trump,” Santos proclaimed on one of his ‘X’ accounts. He provided the Twitter handles of ex-colleagues Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Andrew Garbarino and Nick LaLota of Long Island, Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island, Mike Lawler of the Hudson Valley, and Brandon Williams of Central New York.

The popular acronym for “Republicans in Name Only” is most often hurled these days at those deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump, regardless of whether they’ve really crossed the party’s one true boss.

Santos’ tweet may be about more than throwing shade at those who helped force him out.

Like the ex-president, the ex-congressman faces federal criminal charges still to be resolved in court. Santos pleaded not guilty in October to several alleged frauds, including tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges on credit cards belonging to campaign donors. Last month, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace’s office stated in a court filing: “The parties are presently engaged in plea negotiations with the goal of resolving this matter without the need for a trial.”

So the future of the case is unclear. Santos has said a trial would begin in September at the earliest.

But what if Trump returns to the White House next year? Perhaps he'd consider pardoning Santos. After all, he pardoned others in his circle who were indicted or convicted, including close advisers Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn.

The question is whether outcast Santos could command such a personal favor. This strange 35-year-old who built a fictional life story can be easily blown off as a nobody, even if he backs Trump and screams MAGA loyalty.

Some people took personal, professional and reputational risks for Trump or his campaign, paving the way for a pardon as payback. But Trump's fans and cheerleaders, a group that includes Santos, come a dime a dozen across America.

Santos does dream big, however. In his usual pie-in-the-sky braggadocio, he now tries online to promote himself for immigration director in a new Trump administration. He tweeted this week: “We’re going to have to need [sic] mass deportations, not seen since Dwight Eisenhower. — DJT.... I’m here to serve you Mr. President! #santosforicedirector.”

Santos always seeks to harmonize with the Trump chorus. He once got up at a Washington, D.C. rally and claimed the Third Congressional District election for which he was nominated for the first time in 2020 was stolen from him.

While Santos sounds like a perfect mini-me, the ex-president already has others parroting him in less absurd ways. For Santos, pressing for a pardon might just be like a long-shot appearance on “The Apprentice.”

But Trump doesn’t always back those who took hits for him. This week, his ex-attorney Rudy Giuliani, also in legal trouble, appealed on social media for money “to assist me in defending myself against the persecution from the radical left.” Trump appears to have offered only minimal help.

For his part, Santos, sounding sane and sober, recently told a TV interviewer: “I think everybody should be afraid of going to jail, it’s not a pretty place and uh, I definitely want to work very hard to avoid that as best as possible.”

Columnist Dan Janison's opinions are his own.

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