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Amid growing calls from Republicans for him to resign from Congress over the numerous lies he told about his biography, Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., on Thursday said he would step down if an oddly specific number of people asked him to do so.
"If 142 people ask for me to resign, I'll resign," Santos told reporters outside his office on Capitol Hill.
Santos later clarified that he was in fact referring to the more than 142,000 people who voted to elect him in New York's Third Congressional District in November.
In an interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. — who was serving as guest host of Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast — Santos said he would remain in Congress "until those same 142,000 people tell me they don't want me."
“His campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies and fabrication,” Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph Cairo told reporters. “His lies were not mere fibs.
“He's disgraced the House of Representatives, and we do not consider him one of our congresspeople,” Cairo continued. “Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I am calling for his immediate resignation.”
The New York Times published a report last month suggesting that Santos had lied to voters about his college graduation, his criminal and employment history, his family-owned business, his animal rescue charity and his relationship with four victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. There are also questions surrounding his lending more than $700,000 to his campaign during the midterm election, the Times said.
The Forward, a New York City-based Jewish publication, subsequently published a report suggesting that Santos had misled voters about having Jewish ancestry.
“The lies George Santos told are too numerous to count,” Supervisor Jen DeSena of North Hempstead, N.Y., said. “He lied to me personally when he sought my endorsement, and while I'm offended and disgusted at his deceit, my true concern is for the residents of the Third Congressional District.
“He has betrayed the public's trust and given insincere, glib and insulting answers when asked legitimate questions about his finances and his background,” DeSena continued. “By all accounts, he seems incapable and unwilling to take full responsibility for his lies and fabrications.
“There's absolutely no way Mr. Santos can be an effective member of Congress and represent the people who elected him,” DeSena said. “The longer he remains in office, the longer the residents of the Third Congressional District will suffer.”
Since arriving on Capitol Hill last week, Santos has faced repeated questions from congressional reporters about the scandal.
"I was elected to serve the people of #NY03 not the party & politicians," Santos tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. "I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living. I will NOT resign!"
Earlier this week, Reps. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., and Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee against Santos, saying the disgraced freshman lawmaker had committed a crime and should be removed from Congress.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday that House Republicans need to deal with Santos. “The spectacle of George Santos speaks for itself,” Jeffries said. “He's a complete and total fraud.”
Jeffries pointed to the multiple criminal investigations that Santos is facing 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.
“This is not a partisan issue,” Jeffries said. “But this is an issue that Republicans need to handle. Clean up your House.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., though, is refusing to join members of his caucus who have called for Santos to resign.
“The voters have elected George Santos,” McCarthy said. “If there is a concern, he will go through [the Ethics Committee]. If something is found, he will be dealt with in that manner. But they have a voice in this process.”
McCarthy said Santos would receive committee assignments despite the ongoing controversy over his serial fabrications — just not high-profile assignments.
“He's got a long way to go to earn trust,” McCarthy said. “But the one thing I do know is: You apply the Constitution equally to all.”