Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., told his House Republican colleagues on Tuesday that he will recuse himself from his committee assignments until the investigations into his campaign are completed.
Fellow New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik told reporters that Santos informed members of the GOP conference of his decision to step aside during a closed-door meeting, admitting that he has become a distraction amid the scandal triggered by the serial lies he told about his biography.
Santos was given seats on the House small business and science committees by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy despite concerns over the litany of fabrications he made during his campaign.
McCarthy said that an investigation by the House Ethics Committee would determine whether Santos would remain in Congress.
“The voters of his district have elected him. He is seated. He is part of the Republican Conference,” McCarthy said. “He will be held accountable, exactly as anybody else in this body would be.”
Since arriving on Capitol Hill, a defiant Santos has resisted calls for him to resign as the revelations against him continue to mount. Most recently, he denied claims by a disabled U.S. Navy veteran who says Santos stole $3,000 from a GoFundMe he set up for his dying dog and denied a report that he once performed as a drag queen in Brazil.
“The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag Queen or ‘performed’ as a drag Queen is categorically false,” Santos tweeted earlier this month. “The media continues to make outrageous claims about my life while I am working to deliver results. I will not be distracted nor fazed by this.”
The drag queen report came a day after Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., called on the Federal Election Commission to begin an investigation into Santos.
“George Santos has essentially lied about every aspect of his life,” Torres said. “He has essentially pretended to be a biracial Ukrainian-Belgian-Brazilian volleyball champion and brain cancer survivor whose mother died twice, including on 9/11, whose ancestors survived the Holocaust, whose employees died in the Pulse mass shooting, and who miraculously became a multimillionaire overnight.”
Torres urged the FEC to probe omissions, first reported by the New York Times, on his financial disclosures.
“Mr. Santos claims that he earned millions of dollars from clients,” Torres said, “yet he has disclosed the names of none of those clients on his congressional financial disclosure, as required by federal law.”
Santos is also facing multiple criminal investigations in the U.S. and Brazil, where he was charged with and reportedly confessed to stealing the checkbook of a man his mother was caring for.
His recusals come as Republican leadership is seeking to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from her seat on the foreign affairs committee.