Congressman George Santos, recently elected Republican Congressman from New York who has admitted to lying about parts of his resumeis facing an escalating backlash from within his own party as a growing number of House Republicans call on him to resign or say he cannot serve effectively, although Speaker Kevin McCarthy has stood behind the embattled congressman.
So far, Santos has been defiant, fending off calls for his resignation — and the House GOP leadership has not called on him to do so. Instead, McCarthy, a California Republican, indicated he would not join demands by New York GOP leaders and others for Santos’ resignation — and indicated Santos was on track to still receive commission assignments.
McCarthy told reporters Thursday that Santos had “a long way to go to gain credibility” and that the concerns could be investigated by the House Ethics Committee, but stressed that Santos was part of the Republican Party’s The chamber.
“The voters of his district elected him. He is seated. He’s part of the Republican conference,” he said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.
The Santos controversy represented an early test of McCarthy’s leadership as speaker and posed a serious problem for the new GOP majority.
Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, echoed McCarthy, saying, “Obviously you know we’re finding out more, but we also recognize that he was elected by his constituents.”
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican who endorsed Santos in his race, would not call on the embattled freshman to resign Thursday.
“It will play itself out,” she told CNN. “He is a duly elected member of Congress.” There are members of Congress on the Democratic side who have been investigated before.
But the embattled congressman is facing growing condemnation from rank-and-file Republicans as new and damning revelations about his past come to light.
Two New York Republican lawmakers — U.S. Reps. Mark Molinaro and Mike Lawler — told CNN Thursday morning that they don’t believe Santos can serve his district effectively.
“There’s no way I believe he can fully fulfill his responsibilities,” Molinaro said.
“I think it’s clear, like I said, he’s lost the trust of the people in his own community, so I think he needs to seriously consider whether or not he can really do his job effectively, and right now it’s pretty clear that he’s not can,” Lawler told CNN.
Lawler later said in a statement: “I believe he is unable to fulfill his duties and should resign.”
Santos refused to respond to accusations of lying about his resume or calls from his colleagues for his immediate resignation on Thursday morning, saying only “I was elected by the people” before hiding in his office.
Nassau County Republican Party leaders on Wednesday called on Santos to resign from office because of his lies to voters and fabrications about his personal life. However, Santos quickly rejected calls to resign.
“Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I am calling for his immediate resignation,” Chairman Joseph G. Cairo said at a press conference in Long Island, adding that the congressman’s campaign was made up of “fraud, lies and fabrication.”
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, was also outspoken in demanding Santos’ resignation.
“America is a very compassionate and forgiving country and for George Santos there is a way back. It starts with his resignation,” Blakeman said Thursday on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” in response to McCarthy’s position on Santos, adding in part that “it starts with him trying to rebuild his life not on lies but essentially”.
“But as long as he sits in Congress and tarnishes this institution, I don’t see him being able to rehabilitate himself and I don’t think he’ll get a second chance,” he said.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito was joined Wednesday in calling for Santos’ resignation by others in the U.S. House Republican Conference: New York Reps. Nick LaLotta, Nick Langworthy and Brandon Williams, as well as South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace. Ohio Congressman Max Miller on Thursday also called on the congressman to resign.
Santos has faced mounting criticism from congressional Democrats and a growing number of Republicans after admitting he fabricated parts of his resume — including his past work experience and education.
CNN reported last month that federal prosecutors in New York were investigating Santos’ finances. Separately, CNN reported that Santos’ campaign finances showed dozens of expenses just below the FEC’s threshold for keeping receipts.
In a separate thread, CNN reported that law enforcement officials in Brazil will reinstate fraud charges against Santos. Prosecutors said they would seek a “formal answer” from Santos in connection with a stolen checkbook in 2008 after police dropped their investigation into him after failing to find him for nearly a decade.
Santos admitted to stealing a man’s checkbook that belonged to his mother to buy clothes and shoes in 2008, according to documents obtained by CNN.
CNN’s KFile uncovered even more lies from Santos, including claims he was forced to drop out of a private school in New York when his family’s real estate assets took a nosedive and claims he represented Goldman Sachs at a leading financial conference.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.
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