(WASHINGTON) — New York Rep.-elect George Santos is facing mounting criticism from his future Democratic colleagues for fabricating parts of his biography — criticism that is coming from some of Santos’ fellow Republicans as well, though many in his party have not commented on the controversy, and some have defended him.
“GOP Congressman-elect George Santos, who has now admitted his whopping lies, should resign,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeted on Monday, pushing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to call a vote to expel Santos if he does not step down.
Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro also tweeted that Santos should resign or Congress should expel him, which would require a two-thirds vote, and that his actions should be investigated by authorities.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the incoming House minority leader, spoke sharply of Santos last week.
“He appears to be a complete and utter fraud. His whole life story made up, and he’s going to have to answer that question: Did you perpetrate a fraud on the voters?” Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters.
“It’s an open question to me as to whether this is the type of individual that the incoming majority should welcome to Congress. That’s a question from Kevin McCarthy at this point in time,” Jeffries said.
ABC News has reached out to Republican House leaders Kevin McCarthy, Elise Stefanik and Steve Scalise for comment multiple times and they have not responded.
Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office said she was looking into a number of issues raised about Santos.
In a series of interviews, Santos — who initially pushed back on scrutiny of his biography — admitted to lying about or exaggerating parts of his background, including where he went to school and worked and past claims about his Jewish ancestry.
Santos apologized and sought to play down the discrepancies as “embellishing.”
“I am not a criminal,” he told The New York Post on Monday. “This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”
Republican lawmakers have largely remained silent on Santos. However, fellow New York Rep.-elect Nick LaLota released a statement asking the ethics committee to investigate.
“House Republicans like me are eager to be sworn in and focus on our commitment to America and our respective districts. Yet over the last few weeks, I have heard from countless Long Islanders how deeply troubled they are by the headlines surrounding George Santos,” LaLota said.
“As a Navy man who campaigned on restoring accountability and integrity to our government, I believe a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, if necessary, law enforcement, is required,” he said.
Another incoming Republican New York representative, Anthony D’Esposito, also released a statement condemning Santos’ actions but did not echo a call for an ethics investigation.
Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph G. Cairo Jr., in Santos’ district, said in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday that Santos “has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of voters and everyone who he represents in Congress.”
“I am deeply disappointed in Mr. Santos, and I expected more than just a blanket apology,” Cairo said.
He said that Santos’ contrition could be earned through a conservative legislative record.
“He must do the public’s will in Washington. Residents want him to deliver tax relief and pass laws that will make our neighborhoods and our nation safer,” Cairo said. “What’s more, George Santos will have to continually prove that he has learned his lesson.”
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