Rep. George Santos, the newly sworn-in New York Republican under fire for fabricating large parts of his résumé, told NBC News on Thursday that “if 142 people ask for me to resign, I will resign.”
He later clarified in an interview on Steve Bannon’s War Room with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that he was referring to the more than 142,000 people who elected him in November’s race for New York’s 3rd Congressional District. Santos said he would be in Congress “until those same 142,000 people tell me they don’t want me.”
Santos has said repeatedly this week that he will not step down, despite calls for him to do so from leading Republican officials in his home state and a handful of his GOP colleagues in the House.
A growing number of Republican lawmakers have called for Santos to resign in recent days, including at least four in New York and one other out of state. Top officials from Santos’ own local Republican Party, the Nassau County GOP, held a press conference Wednesday and said he needs to step aside.
Even Republicans who have stopped just short of directly calling for his resignation have said they doubt how effective he can be in office.
“I don’t think there’s any way he can possibly perform his duties, and the man’s got to be honest with himself and his constituents,” Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., told NBC News Thursday.
“With the extent and severity of the allegations against him, his inability to take full responsibility for his conduct, and the numerous investigations underway, I believe he is unable to fulfill his duties and should resign,” Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., added.
But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has so far said he won’t join in the chorus trying to get Santos out.
“I try to stick by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve,” McCarthy said this week. “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.”
He has said Santos will get at least one committee assignment, although it will not be on a top committee.
Santos has been caught fabricating or embellishing large parts of his background including his college education, religion, volleyball experience, jobs and his mother’s experience on 9/11.
Ryan Nobles, Dareh Gregorian and Haley Talbot contributed.