Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican whose falsehoods about his background have drawn interest from both prosecutors and late night comedians, has stepped down from the House committees he was on.
“We just got out of conference and George has voluntarily removed himself from committees as he goes through this process, but ultimately voters decide,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Santos’ move was an appropriate one “until he can clear everything up.”
Santos was appointed to two of the lowest-profile House committees, the Science, Space and Technology panel and the Small Business Committee.
The news comes only days after the Department of Justice had signaled it was likely pursuing a criminal investigation of Santos by asking the Federal Election Commission to hold off on its own probe. Mother Jones magazine has also reported the names or addresses of more than a dozen of Santos’ biggest listed campaign donors could not be confirmed.
The possible campaign finance violations join a long list of things Santos appears to have been untruthful about, including much of his self-described background. Santos’ troubles with truth telling have become fodder for late night comedians including Stephen Colbert, who on Monday night made fun of his singing ability.
The move also came as House Republicans are mulling how to keep a Democratic House member, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), from joining the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she served last Congress.
Republicans have said Omar should not be seated because of what they say are anti-Semitic comments in her past, but Democrats see it as payback for them not allowing two Republican 2020 election deniers to join the House panel that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Santos' decision to leave his House committees came as House Republicans are trying to round up the votes to keep Rep. Ilhan Omar from being seated on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) pointed to the Omar dispute as one reason for Santos’ decision.
“He just felt like there was so much drama really over the situation, and especially what we’re doing to work to remove Ilhan Omar from the foreign affairs committee,” she told CNN.
However, Santos’ stepping off of his committees now could save Republicans a PR headache later if Santos is criminally indicted.
Under House Republican rules, a member who has been indicted for a felony carrying a penalty of at least two years in prison “shall submit his or her resignation from any such committees to the House promptly.”