Santos steps down from committee assignments

The list of biographical details that George Santos lied about is really too long at this point to fully recapitulate. At a minimum, there’s his college degree from Baruch College and, according to some versions of his biography, attendance at NYU. His work at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. His Jewish heritage? His unmentioned marriage and divorce to a woman. His charity for pets which may have existed as a cover to steal money from people and their pets. And of course we can’t forget his time as a drag queen in Brazil where he is still wanted for theft/fraud. 

Again, those are just the highlights but there appears to be a lot more he’s lied about.

Somehow, none of this prevented the GOP from giving Santos two low-profile committee assignments. But this morning he announced he would be recusing himself from those assignments.

Santos is stepping down from his committee assignments, he informed House GOP colleagues on Tuesday in a conference meeting.

The representative had faced a whirlwind of criticism over numerous fabrications and misrepresentations of his resume and personal history, as well as questions about his personal and campaign finances.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said that Santos informed the conference he would recuse himself from committees “temporarily” until “things get settled.”

One source said that Santos called himself a “distraction.”

“And then he asked that we all support him when everything settles down for him to serve on committees,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told reporters after the meeting.

The House GOP Steering Committee, the panel of Republican leaders who assign committees, had assigned Santos to the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee earlier this month. 

Santos declined to comment Tuesday morning, telling reporters that “what happens in conference stays in conference.”

Santos’s move comes after he met with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday.

“I met with George Santos yesterday and I think it was an appropriate decision that until he could clear everything up he’s off of committees right now,” McCarthy told reporters following the closed-door conference hearing.

“We had a discussion, he asked me if he could do that. So I think it was the appropriate decision,” McCarthy said.

The Speaker said the spots initially set aside for Santos could be filled “on a temporary basis,” adding that Santos will “be able to get committees back” once he is cleared.

Pressed on what it would mean for Santos to have his name cleared, McCarthy pointed to an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

“Going through Ethics on some of these concerns,” McCarthy said. “The voters have elected him, they’ll have a voice here in Congress, until he answers all those questions then he’ll, at that time he’ll be able to be seated on committees.”

Greene said Santos also told colleagues he was recusing himself amid the controversy surrounding him, and as Republican leadership works to shore up support to block Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has drawn some opposition within the conference.

Some Democrats have pointed to Santos being seated on committees as a point of criticism for the effort against Omar.

“Just all the controversy surrounding him and then while we’re working to remove Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs,” Greene said.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the GOP conference chair and highest-ranking New York Republican in the House, said Santos “voluntarily removed himself from committees as he goes through this process.”

Asked if she thinks he should resign, Stefanik again pointed to the “process” and the voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

“This process is going to play itself out, I’ve already commented on this numerous times. And again, it’s going to play itself out. But ultimately voters are going to make that decision, whether it’s the primary election or the general election,” she said.

If Santos wanted to avoid being a distraction he should have done this before the party embarrassed itself by putting him on those committees in the first place.

As for clearing up the investigations, that’s obviously not up to him. Santos was facing an FEC investigation but as of last week it appears the FEC is taking a back seat while the DOJ ramps up its own criminal investigation. How long will that take to resolve? Your guess is as good as mine but it probably won’t be a few weeks.

In addition, Santos is also facing complaints in the House Ethics Committee which were filed by Democrats earlier this month. Speaker McCarthy said last week that if Santos is found to have broken the law, he’ll be removed from Congress.

I’m committed to the idea that everyone deserves a fair process to determine their guilt or innocence. But in this case, the stuff Santos has already admitted he lied about seems ethically disqualifying whether or not he broke any laws (outside of Brazil). 

Santos would resign if he had any shame but obviously you don’t tell stories like the ones he’s been telling if you’re prone to any kind of critical self-reflection.

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