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NY Republican leaders call on Rep. Santos to resign over campaign lies

A growing number of GOP lawmakers from New York are calling for the resignation of Rep. George Santos, the newly sworn-in member of Congress who confessed to lying about key details of his background.

At least four House Republicans from New York said Santos should step down after Nassau County GOP officials on Wednesday first called for him to give up his congressional seat.

“George Santos’ campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies and fabrication,” Nassau County GOP Chairman Joe Cairo said at a news conference with other party officials.

Cairo took aim at Santos for having “disgraced” the House and made clear that the freshman congressman is “not welcome here at Republican headquarters.”

“We do not consider him one of our Congress people,” Cairo said.

Cairo pointed to various false claims by Santos, which include his previous claims of having Jewish heritage. Cairo also told reporters that Santos gave the local GOP party a fake resume that included lies about being a volleyball “star” at Baruch College who led his team to a “league championship.”

Santos, however, isn’t backing down, saying in a tweet that he has no plans to resign.

Freshman Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y., who was also just sworn into Congress and serves as the chair of the state Republican Party, said in a statement Wednesday that he supports Cairo’s decision to request Santos’ resignation.

“It’s clear that he cannot be an effective representative and it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers to have new leadership,” Langworthy said. “I will continue working with our local elected officials to ensure that trust and dignity are restored to the 3rd Congressional District.”

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, a first-term New York Republican whose district borders Santos’, joined the Cairo press conference virtually. “At this point, I don’t think that George Santos can move forward as a member of Congress,” he said.

GOP Rep. Brandon Williams of New York said in a statement: “As more revelations become public, I concur with the Nassau Republicans’ decision to request George Santos’s resignation. The constituents in NY-3 elected Representative Santos in part due to his biographical exaggerations and apparent deceptions. He must resign.”

And in an interview with Axios, Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., said he thought Santos should resign. LaLota’s office later confirmed his remarks to NBC News.

But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that Cairo’s call for Santos’ resignation doesn’t affect his thinking on the issue.

“I try to stick by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve,” McCarthy said. “If there is a concern, he has to go through the Ethics [Committee], let him move through that. But right now, the voters have a voice in the decision, it’s not where people pick and choose based upon what somebody’s press has. So he will continue to serve.

Asked if he trusts Santos, McCarthy said, “Look, he is going to have to build the trust here and he’s going to have the opportunity to try to do that.”

Other local party officials also took aim at Santos throughout the press conference Wednesday.

Asked why the demand for Santos to resign came after he was sworn into office, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said he believes in due process, but the situation became “untenable” when Santos admitted to lying.

“He needs help,” Blakeman said, while calling out Santos for being an “outright liar.”

The leaders’ demand comes less than a week after Santos officially took office following the election of McCarthy as speaker last week. Santos voted for McCarthy.

The Nassau County GOP’s demand for Santos’ resignation could potentially put pressure on McCarthy, who leads a slim GOP majority that includes a group of detractors who threatened to tank his leadership bid.

Most congressional Republicans appeared to give Santos the cold shoulder upon entering Congress. Santos was often seen sitting by himself during numerous rounds of speaker votes last week.

House GOP leadership hasn’t warmed up to Santos since then.

Earlier Wednesday, McCarthy said Santos should not be seated on any top committees as he headed into a GOP Steering Committee meeting where members decide which colleagues should serve on certain committees.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., also wouldn’t defend Santos when asked whether he should resign. “Obviously there’s some conversations that are being had right now,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Calls for Santos’ resignation from state Republicans have mounted following the Nassau County GOP’s press conference.

The New York State Conservative party said it stands with the Nassau County GOP in calling for Santos’ resignation in a statement.

“Mr. Santos’s profound use of mistruths as a candidate morally disqualifies him from serving in public office and exposes him to potential legal action, seriously compromising his ability to represent his constituents,” state conservative party chair Gerard Kassar said.

Some congressional Republicans also echoed their concerns though most stopped short of calling on him to resign.

“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,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., told NBC News, adding “we should just have an expedited review” for Santos’ “egregious” conduct.

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., also knocked Santos, saying that his “entire life and resume was manufactured.”

“It is deeply troubling to have someone like that in our body,” Mace said during an interview on NBC News, saying she supported an Ethics Committee investigation. “It can take a few months and probably will. It will work itself out in the end.”

Nassau County GOP officials initially endorsed Santos in the 2022 election cycle. But after Santos admitted to lying about parts of his résumé, including his education and employment history, county Republicans condemned his actions.

“Congressman-elect George Santos has broken the public trust by making serious misstatements regarding his background, experience and education, among other issues,” Cairo said in a statement last month. 

Wednesday’s announcement from Nassau County officials also comes amid several investigations into Santos’ campaign and other calls for him to resign.

In a complaint filed Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres, both of New York, requested the House Ethics Committee investigate Santos for his “failure to file timely, accurate and complete financial disclosure reports.”

In their complaint, Goldman and Torres allege Santos violated the Ethics in Government Act and pointed to recent reports, as well as Santos’ own admission, saying he “misled voters in his district about his ethnicity, his religion, his education, and his employment and professional history, among other things.” They also cited Santos’ financial disclosure reports in 2020 and 2022, which they described as “sparse and perplexing.”

“George Santos is a man without a country,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., said in an interview Wednesday. “The GOP’s turning on him. Dems obviously don’t want him. His voters don’t want him. Oh my goodness, this guy’s unbelievable.”

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