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Could Rep. Michael Grimm Stay in Congress?

There are a number of different consequences he could face in Congress, with the worst being a vote to have him expelled.
Image: Michael Grimm
Congressman Michael Grimm talks to reporters after voting in the borough of Staten Island in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. The republican incumbent, who is under indictment on criminal charges, is in a close race with his democratic challenger, Domenic Recchia. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)Seth Wenig / AP

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) pled guilty to a single count of tax fraud Tuesday afternoon. Now, there are a number of different consequences he could face in Congress, with the worst being a vote to have him expelled.

House Speaker John Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, told NBC News: "We won't have any announcements until the Speaker discusses the matter with Mr. Grimm."

Here's a quick Q&A compiled from NBC's reporting and a recently published Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, which you can read in its entirety here.


The short answer is yes. According to CRS, "no express constitutional disability or "disqualification" from Congress exists for the conviction of a crime, other than under the Fourteenth Amendment for "certain treasonous conduct."


While House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) can encourage Grimm to resign, he can't necessarily force him to do so. We saw this happen when Rep Vance McAllister (R-LA) was caught kissing a staffer, and then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told McAllister he should resign. McAllister rebuffed Cantor and said he would not run for reelection, but would continue to serve out his term. McAllister then decided to run again where he had no backing from the GOP party structure and finished in fourth place in November.

So while the 114th Congress has yet to be sworn-in, the Republican party could abandon Grimm in 2016, pick another candidate, and put their money on his primary opponent.

But in reality, if Grimm were to stay against leadership's wishes and be convicted of a crime, the situation would likely become politically untenable, as Democrats would be able to point to Grimm as a convicted felon casting votes as a part of the House Republican conference.


Leadership would likely try to make his life as a Congressman as unappealing as possible. Leadership wouldn't be able to take Committee assignments away from him because after Grimm was indicted he stepped down from his posts on the Financial Services Committee. (But, oddly enough, his website still says he's a member of the Committee.)

According to House Rules, if Grimm were convicted and sentenced to two or more years' imprisonment he would be INSTRUCTED not to vote in committee or on the House floor. BUT, there is no constitutional rule stopping him from voting, so technically he could continue.


The House Ethics Committee has been deferring their investigation into Grimm at the request of the Department of Justice until they finish their work in the courts. If Grimm were to decide to stay after he has pleaded guilty, the Ethics Committee would likely fire up its investigation as soon as possible.


If two-thirds of House agrees that Grimm should be expelled from Congress, they can vote to do so. This has only happened FIVE TIMES in the history of the House:

1) Rep-elect John B. Clark of MO (1861) - for disloyalty to the Union

2) Rep John W. Reid of MO (1861) - for disloyalty to the Union

3) Rep Henry C. Burnett of KY (1861) - for disloyalty to the Union

4) Rep Michael J. (Ozzie) Myers, of PA (1980) - for involvement in ABSCAM

5) Rep James A. Traficant, of OH, (2002) - after a 10-count federal conviction


Grimm's office and lawyers are not commenting, but he said in a radio interview in October that he could step down in January if he is convicted.

"If things don't go my way, right?" he said. "And I had to step down in January, then there will be a special election, and at least the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn can then have qualified candidates to choose from," Grimm told the radio talk-show host Geraldo Rivera in October, according to the New York Times.