February 1, 2023
Representative George Santos, the embattled first-term Republican from New York, told his colleagues on Tuesday morning, January 31, that he would temporarily recuse himself from sitting on his congressional committees—the first crack in his defiant stance as he faces multiple investigations and calls from members of his party to resign, reports The New York Times.
Santos, who, since being elected in November has admitted to fabricating parts of his résumé and is under scrutiny for what appears to have been a yearslong pattern of deception, was named this month to serve on the committees on small business and on science, space, and technology.
His decision to step down from his committees came after he met privately with Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday night. McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that Santos had brought up the idea and that it was an “appropriate decision” for now, “until he could clear everything up.”
“He just felt like there was so much drama, really, over the situation,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, explained after a G.O.P. conference meeting, calling the decision “pretty bold.”
Greene noted that the move was not permanent and said it was made in part because House Republican leaders are trying to remove Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, from the Foreign Affairs Committee, although it is not clear they have the votes to do so.
McCarthy has said he wants to remove Omar from the committee because of past comments she made about Israel that Republicans and Democrats criticized as employing antisemitic tropes. But a number of Republicans have said they disagree with the decision, the Times reports.
Some Republicans regarded Santos’s decision to recuse himself as problematic because it could be seen as an admission of guilt and might raise more questions about how he could effectively represent his constituents while facing multiple investigations and a deep lack of trust from his own party.
House Republican leaders, who hold a slim, four-seat majority, have not called on Santos to resign, even as he has faced pressure to do so from New York Republicans. McCarthy has said that the decision should be left up to voters.
“George has voluntarily removed himself from committees as he goes through this process, but ultimately, voters decide,” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, said on Tuesday.
A poll by Newsday and Siena College on Tuesday found that voters in Santos’s district overwhelmingly thought he should step down. About 78% of those surveyed said they believed that Santos should resign, including 71% of Republicans.
Of those who voted for Santos in November, 63% said they would not have done so had they known more about the falsehoods he told about his background and the questions surrounding his campaign finances.
The decision to step down from committee assignments was also contrary to how Santos has been conducting himself. After weeks of dodging the hordes of cameras and reporters who follow his every move in the Capitol, he has taken on a more combative approach in which he appears to be relishing his notoriety.
He has more forcefully pushed back on allegations against him, including that he stole thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe account that was intended to pay for lifesaving surgery for a disabled veteran’s service dog, which died after it failed to receive the operation.
Channeling former President Donald Trump’s old Twitter persona, Santos has savaged comedians who have mocked him and positioned himself as a fighter under siege by the liberal news media.
“From interviewing clowns, to creating fake ‘posts’ the media continues to down spiral as their attempt to smear me fails,” he tweeted last week. “I am getting the job I signed up for done, while you all spiral out of control.”
Research contact: @nytimes