Some of George Santos’s soon-to-be colleagues want to look into the many lies on his resume. Still, Kevin McCarthy’s fight for the speakership in a narrow majority is making his fate more complicated.
The New York Republican will be sworn into Congress on the same day the House will start voting for a new speaker. He has admitted that he made up much of his personal and professional history. But House GOP leader McCarthy needs all the help he can get, even if it comes from a member-elect involved in a scandal. He only has four party votes left, and a few conservative House members are openly rebelling against him.
One Republican has publicly asked for an internal investigation of Santos, and others have said in private conversations that he is likely to be investigated. McCarthy and other leaders have kept quiet about the fact that Santos lied about his past, including that he was Jewish, worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and graduated from Baruch College.
Most Republicans in the House think that once they have a new speaker, Santos’ future will become more apparent. But now, five members have publicly said they will vote against the Republican leader’s bid for speakership on January 3. This is the same number that would stop him from getting the 218 votes he needs. And the party is calling ready for more than one vote. If that happens, it would be only the second time since the Civil War that the race for speaker went beyond the first ballot.
“Until McCarthy is speaker, McCarthy can’t do anything official. So that has to happen first,” said a House Republican who plans to vote for the California Republican but asked to remain anonymous, to be honest. “But when it comes to Santos, I think his problems might keep him from getting a job in financial services until everything is fixed. Concerns about his money are a real problem.”
At the moment, only Democrats are asking Santos to leave his job, which was a long shot for Republicans to win in the first place. And the GOP, both locally and in the House, isn’t likely to ask him to step down because they don’t have enough votes. But a Republican who knows about the talks said that Santos had told New York party leaders that he wouldn’t run again after this term. The Republican said that if he doesn’t say that out loud soon, those leaders might pull their support in public.
A request for comment on the story was sent to Santos, but they did not respond. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who is on the Oversight Committee, told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday that he is “not in favor of [Santos] being in our conference.” He didn’t ask Santos to quit, but he did say that the House GOP leadership should question him. His incoming colleague from the Empire State has criticized Santos for the headlines and doubts he has caused after Republicans ran on “accountability” and “integrity” during the election.
Rep.-elect Nick LaLota said in a statement on Tuesday, “New Yorkers deserve the truth, and House Republicans deserve to be able to govern without distractions.” He asked for an internal House investigation and, if necessary, a criminal investigation.
After George Santos admitted to lying about his background, the Republican district attorney for Nassau County said she would open a probe into him. The New York Times noted that Santos told a story on the campaign trail full of lies. This is why Anne Donnelly is looking into it.
In an interview with the New York Post this week, Santos made light of his lies by calling them “poor” word choices and additions to his resume. He admitted that he did not graduate from Baruch College as he had said before. He also said that he did not “directly” work for companies like “Goldman Sachs and Citigroup” that he had listed.
“My sins here are making my resume look better. I’m sorry,” Santos told the conservative tabloid. He has also defended his past claims that he is Jewish even though he is a practicing Catholic by saying he meant to say that he is “Jew-ish” because his ancestors were practicing Jews. In an earlier campaign statement, though, he said he was a “proud American Jew.”
People in Republican circles don’t buy what he’s trying to say. Instead, it has brought up more questions about his past. Some people aren’t sure about his supposed wealth, how he self-funded part of his campaign, his ties to Russia, or even if he was born in the U.S.
And what he said in private could make his coworkers treat him badly when he gets to work. LaLota is likely not the only Republican who thinks that Santos’ actions cast a bad light on the rest of them, especially since they are about to take power after running a campaign to hold the Biden administration accountable.
Santos has tried to defend his record in conservative media. Still, Tulsi Gabbard, a former Democrat who left the party and was filling in for Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, was not a friendly interviewer.
Gabbard, who was in the House for eight years, asked Santos to define the word “integrity” and asked, “Do you have no shame?” She ended his first TV interview since the Times story by saying that he has a credibility problem. “It’s hard to see how they can believe your explanations when you aren’t willing to admit how much you lied to them,” she said.
Most Republicans on Capitol Hill didn’t think the interview helped Santos’ image. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind. ), who is leaving his position as head of the Republican Study Committee, wrote on Twitter that Gabbard did a “good job” of making fun of Santos.
Still, at least one member supported the New Yorker, and this person is used to making people angry. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted, “I think we Republicans should give George Santos a chance and see how he legislates and votes, not treat him the same way the left does.” This came after she praised Santos for “being honest with his district now.”
Even so, Republicans agree that Santos needs to do much more to deal with the scandal. “I don’t think we’ll hear the last of this for a while. Katko said, “It’s a problem that will bother him for a long time and may have serious consequences.”
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