WASHINGTON — House Republicans’ calls for Rep. George Santos to resign are growing after state GOP leaders in New York said he should step aside over a slew of lies and fabrications in the biography he ran on in the 2022 midterm election.
Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., also starting his first term, dropped his earlier hedging and unequivocally said Thursday that Santos should resign.
“It is clear that George Santos has lost the confidence and support of his party, his constituents, and his colleagues. With the extent and severity of the allegations against him, his inability to take full responsibility for his conduct and the numerous investigations underway, I believe he is unable to fulfill his duties and should resign,” Lawler said in a statement.
GOP Rep. Max Miller of Ohio cited Santos’ remarks about being Jewish in calling for him to resign. Santos presented himself as Jewish during his congressional campaigns, but recently told The New York Post, “I never claimed to be Jewish.”
“It is not okay to fabricate or lie for political gain. This is especially true when the lie seeks benefit from the murder of millions of Jewish people,” Miller, who is Jewish, said in a statement Thursday night. “I do not believe George Santos can effectively serve and should resign.”
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said earlier Thursday that Santos “should resign,” one day after she deferred to the Ethics Committee to investigate him in a process she said could take weeks or months.
“It is a problem for us in Congress because the American people, they don’t trust anybody. They think all politicians lie, and there are good guys among us who are trying to do the right thing,” Mace said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “He should resign, but obviously, he won’t.”
Santos insisted Thursday he won’t resign “until those same 142,000 people” in New York who elected him “tell me they don’t want me.” (The New York board of elections shows that 145,824 voters supported him in November).
And Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is not calling on him to quit.
“He’s got a long way to go to earn trust, but the one thing I do know is you apply the Constitution equal to all Americans,” McCarthy told reporters Thursday. “The voters of his district have elected him. He is seated. He is part of the Republican Conference. There are concerns with him, so he will go before Ethics. If anything is found to be wrong, he will be held accountable exactly as anybody else in this body would be.”
Santos presents a political dilemma for Republicans. National news about his various deceptions have tarnished his image and created embarrassment for a party that doesn’t want to be defined by him. In New York, the GOP over-performed expectations in the midterm election and picked up four House seats. But McCarthy is overseeing a wafer-thin majority, with no more than four votes to lose before needing Democratic votes to pass legislation, and Santos has so far proved to be a reliable vote for him.
Santos flipped a Democratic-held seat on Long Island. If he resigns, it could be up for grabs again in a special election.
Republican Rep. Brandon Williams, who represents a swing district in upstate New York, said Wednesday he agrees with Nassau Republicans’ calls for Santos to step aside.
“He must resign,” Williams said in a statement, citing “biographical exaggerations and apparent deceptions.”
Some Republicans are hedging on Santos, expressing concerns about him but stopping short of calling on him to quit.
That includes first-term Rep. Marc Molinaro of New York.
“I don’t think there’s any way he can possibly perform his duty. But the man’s got to be honest with himself and his constituents and it’s just clear to me that he can’t do his job,” Molinaro told reporters on Thursday.
And on Wednesday, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., a co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said Santos deserves the due process of an investigation before being forced to resign, even though he argued that the congressman’s “conduct was egregious.”
“I don’t think he should be here, that’s for sure. But there’s a process in place that has to apply equally to all members of both parties in both chambers,” Fitzpatrick said on MSNBC. “We should just have an expedited review.”
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