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.
“He lost the confidence of people. So, you know, I think he needs to seriously consider whether or not he can actually do the job effectively,” 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.
Ryan Nobles and Dareh Gregorian contributed.