George Santos tells House Republicans he will recuse himself from sitting on committees

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Santos tells House Republicans he will recuse himself from committees
Rep. George Santos told House Republicans during a closed door meeting Tuesday morning that he would recuse himself from sitting on any committees. Chantee Lans has the story.

WASHINGTON -- Rep. George Santos told House Republicans during a closed door meeting Tuesday morning that he would recuse himself from sitting on any committees.

Santos was recently assigned two committees -- the House Small Business Committee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

The news comes as he faces mounting controversies over his past falsehoods, scrutiny of his finances and investigations in the U.S. and in Brazil.

In an exclusive interview with One America News Network (OAN), Rep. Santos even expressed some remorse for the lies he told on the campaign trail, saying the only thing he would have changed was not lying about his education, however he blamed the media for going after him and his family.

"I don't think lying is excusable ever, period," Santos said. "There's no circumstance especially if you're legislating for the American people right now. So what I might have done during the campaign does not reflect what is being done in the office."

Santos said he lied about his education because he felt it was the only way to win his House seat.

"It was a bad decision. Poor judgment," he said. "I felt the need to do it because I thought that without a diploma, I'd be looked down on and less than the other people."

Santos maintained that he came from humble beginnings and defended his character.

"I know that a lot of people want to create this narrative that I faked my way to Congress, which is absolutely categorically false," he said. "I've worked hard I've built ground up a career, through experience and through knowledge and through self education."

ALSO READ | The saga of Rep. George Santos: Inside his many fabrications, exaggerations, and embellishments

On Tuesday, reporters asked if he made the decision to step away from the committees on his own or if he was asked to by the House speaker.

"Nobody tells me to do anything, I made the decision on my own that I thought best represented- in interest of the voters," Santos said.

Embattled Congressman George Santos dodged questions from reporters in DC after stepping back from House committees.

On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy confirmed that George Santos said he would recuse himself from committees but indicated if he were to fill the committee seats it would be on a temporary basis.

"If I fill them it will be on a temporary basis he would be able to get committees back once he's cleared," McCarthy said.

McCarthy reiterated that the House Ethics committee will have questions about many of these concerns and once he answers those questions he may be able to be seated on committees.

"I think it was an appropriate decision that until he can clear everything up he's off the committees," McCarthy said, adding that they discussed the matter during a meeting Monday.

McCarthy wouldn't say explicitly whether he encouraged him to step aside from his committee assignments but told reporters, "I think we had a good discussion inside the meeting" and said Santos found this decision was the best way forward.

New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, who supported the embattled congressman's campaign on Long Island, was in the closed-door meeting.

"We just got out of conference and George has voluntarily removed himself from committees as he goes through this process," Stefanik said.

Santos released the following statement later Tuesday afternoon:

"With the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared. This was a decision that I take very seriously. The business of the 118th Congress must continue without media fanfare. It is important that I primarily focus on serving the constituents of New York's Third Congressional District and providing federal level representation without distraction. I want to personally thank Speaker McCarthy for meeting with me to discuss the matter and allowing me to take time to properly clear my name before returning to my committees. To my constituents, I remain committed to serving the district, and delivering results for both New York's Third Congressional District and for the American people."

The move comes as a new Sienna Poll revealed that 78% of Santos' district voters say he should resign.

There were new discoveries over the weekend of possible federal law violations through what is called ghost donors -- or applying donations to people who do not exist.

Eyewitness News dug deeper into Santos' campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission and found that more than $18,000 were attributed to bogus donors.

One of them was Rafael Dasilva, the name of a famous Brazilian soccer player, and Steven Caruso, listed on West Fingerboard Road in Manhattan.

That street does not exist.

District 3 residents and Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan gathered outside Santos' Queens district office to ask the FEC to add the potential ghost donors to their investigation.

"Essentially this brazen act of campaign finance fraud, allowed him to take money from one source and we don't know where that source was and circumvent campaign finance rules," Lafazan said.

Reporter Chantee Lans sat down with one of the congressman's real donors.

"I feel betrayed, my friends and a lot of people have a lot of their time to campaign for him the third district and it wouldn't have happened without those people," donor David Zere said.

Meanwhile, multiple men have described to ABC News past relationships with the New York congressman - some allegedly occurring when they were still teenagers -- that they said turned toxic due to a flood of lies that Santos told to try to manipulate and trap them.