House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) revealed that he could not prevent former Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) expulsion vote because it was a “privileged resolution.”

Santos’ House colleagues voted to expel him from Congress following revelations made in a damning House ethics report. Although Santos is facing multiple federal indictments, his expulsion makes him the first member of Congress to be expelled before receiving a conviction.

Johnson, who voted against expelling Santos, told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends Weekend” that Santos’ expulsion was a regrettable day.

“We couldn’t block it. It was a privileged resolution, which means it has to come to the floor within two days of filing, and it was a regrettable day,” Johnson said. “Prior to yesterday, only five people had ever been expelled from Congress. Three were Confederates, two were convicted of federal charges. And George Santos has not been convicted in a court. Our party believes in the rule of law and due process. We are deeply concerned about preserving those things.”

The House speaker reveled that he had reservations about voting to expel Santos because he had not been convicted.

Several House GOP members voted with Democrats to oust Santos. Johnson said he could not convince his GOP colleagues to vote against expulsion because many of them felt very passionate about Santos’ alleged wrongdoings.

“Yeah, a lot of our members felt very passionate about this one. We allowed them to have a vote of conscience,” Johnson said. “I felt like that was important. There were some members on the other side making a rule of law argument in favor of expelling because they said what was different about Santos is he was alleged to have committed crimes against the institution itself and that’s why they felt that this made this a different thing. We’ve had very impassioned views of that, and uh, and you know, we’ve let our views be made known to the members, but we’ve allowed them to do what they did.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is now expected to call for a special election in February to elect Santos’ replacement. Johnson said he is optimistic about the GOP’s chances of keeping Santos’ seat.

“We’re down to a three-vote margin. It’s a difficult thing to govern under those circumstances, but we’re optimistic about where we’re headed,” Johnson said. “This team is together. We’re pulling together, we’ve got big things ahead of us, but um, I’m bullish on the future of this.”