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Rep. George Santos voluntarily steps down from House committee assignments

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House GOP conference meeting in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25, 2023.
Devin Speak
/
NPR
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House GOP conference meeting in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25, 2023.

Updated January 31, 2023 at 4:49 PM ET

Embattled New York Republican Rep. George Santos is voluntarily stepping down from his committee assignments amid outcry over his fabricated biography and ongoing questions about his personal and campaign finances.

"With the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared," Santos said in a statement.

Santos later told reporters he was confident he would be cleared "because I have nothing to hide."

Santos had previously been placed on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Small Business Committee.

Texas Rep. Roger Williams, who chairs the latter committee, said he understood from Santos that the move is temporary.

"There's a threshold that he feels like [where] he's not the issue anymore and when he hits that, it sounds like he wants to get back on committees and get going," Williams told reporters.

He added Santos' withdrawal came as a surprise but he supports the decision.

"For a while, the question I was getting asked by [the press] is 'Where you gonna put him? Can he do this?' - it became about him," Williams said. "It's not about him. It's about our committee and we have so much to do and when he gets ready to get back on and he's met the thresholds that he's set or whatever, then let's go."

Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called Santos' move "bold" as she left the GOP's weekly closed-door conference meeting Tuesday morning.

"He just felt like that there is so much drama really over the situation," she said.

"Mr. Santos' statement in there was just saying that he spoke with Speaker McCarthy and made this decision on his own," Greene added.

There are ongoing calls for Santos to resign

Several Republican members of the House as well as Republicans in his New York district have called on Santos to resign. Santos did not take questions from NPR Tuesday morning but has repeatedly said he has no plans to resign.

Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y. had previously pushed for an ethics review of Santos.

"Half-measures like voluntarily taking himself off his committee assignments are not good enough for the people of New York's third congressional district, or for the American people," Torres said in a statement. "He was a disgrace yesterday. He's a disgrace today. And he'll be a disgrace tomorrow. He should resign from office immediately."

Nassau County GOP Chairman Joseph Cairo recently called Santos' run for office a "campaign of deceit, lies, and fabrication."

"He has no place in the Nassau County Republican Committee, nor should he serve in public service or as an elected official," he said. "He's not welcome here at Republican headquarters for meetings or at any of our events."

Santos, who won an open congressional seat held by a Democrat in November, came under fire for reports he deceived voters with an extensively fabricated biography, including false claims about his Jewish heritage and imagined story about his family escaping the Holocaust. Santos has previously admitted to making some "mistakes," but maintains that he is not "a fraud or a fake."

An investigation from The New York Times couldn't substantiate many of Santos' claims, including his graduation from Baruch College and his work for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

Questions have also emerged as to the source of $700,000 that Santos claimed to loan his campaign in 2022, just two years after filing a financial disclosure report indicating he had no major assets.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said earlier this month that although Santos has "a long way to go to earn trust," he would remain in Congress.

"The voters have elected George Santos," McCarthy said during an early January press conference. "If there is a concern, he will go through ethics. If there is something that is found, he will be dealt with in that manner."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt
Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.