FEBRUARY 10, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The recent clash between Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and controversial freshman Rep. George Santos was a small slice of the political blowback facing the House member.
Santos, plagued by intense backlash since admitting to lies about his personal life and credentials, is beset by multiple investigations at the state and federal level about his campaign finances, a House Ethics complaint and calls from members in both parties to resign.
Those calls got louder this week when busloads of his constituents came to Washington Tuesday demanding his removal. And on Thursday, House Democrats introduced a resolution to expel him from Congress – a procedure that has rarely been used throughout history.
But Santos told USA TODAY Thursday he will not resign, despite new calls for his removal.
“It’s their prerogative,” Santos said of his Democratic colleagues’ resolution. “They can do whatever they want. For people who like to talk about silencing voters, they want to silence 142,000 people who voted to send me here.”
Meanwhile, his fellow Republican members have not been silent. In fact, some have been sharp-tongued. Here’s what they’re saying:
Romney calls Santos ‘a sick puppy’
As Romney entered the Capitol for Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, he told Santos he didn’t belong in Congress.
Given the investigations facing him, Romney found Santos sitting in an aisle seat to be a brazen and shameless act.
“I didn’t expect that he’d be standing there trying to shake hands with every senator and the president of the United States,” Romney said to reporters after the speech. “He should be sitting in the back row and staying quiet instead of parading in front of the president and people coming into the room.”
Santos has lied that he graduated from college and was a volleyball star, about a Wall Street resume that did not exist, his ancestry and more.
“He is a sick puppy,” Romney said.
“He shouldn’t be in Congress, and they’re going to go through the process and hopefully get him out,” Romney said. “But he shouldn’t be there and if he had any shame at all, he wouldn’t be there.”
GOP congressman said Santos is ‘a joke’
Rep. Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican and a key ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is joining the growing number of members in his party who believe the freshman lawmaker from New York doesn’t belong in Congress.
“George Santos is a joke, and he shouldn’t be in Congress,” Johnson told USA TODAY Thursday.
But Johnson was hesitant about a Democratic resolution to expel Santos.
“It’s the voters who get to decide who to hire and fire,” he said. “Before we start exercising a veto over the decision of the voters, I think we really want to proceed cautiously.”
Mace mocked Santos at Congressional dinner
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., included a few Santos roasts in her speech at the annual Congressional Dinner Wednesday night.
“I know George Santos hoped to deliver tonight’s keynote,” but organizers wanted “someone who could tell a joke, but not actually be one,” Mace said in one of her opening lines.
GOP congressman calls Santos ‘a sociopath’
Fellow New York Republican Rep. Nick LaLota called Santos ” a sociopath” on CNN Wednesday morning.
“It’s become an embarrassment and a distraction to the Republicans in the House,” he said.
Comer on Santos: He is ‘a bad guy’
Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Accountability Committee, described Santos as ‘a bad guy,’ during a CNN interview last month.
“I think that Santos is being examined thoroughly. It’s his decision whether or not he should resign. It’s not my decision. But certainly, I don’t approve of how he made his way to Congress, and I haven’t even introduced myself to him,” Comer said.
‘Not normal’ and ‘not welcome’: NY GOP officials call to remove Santos
Nassau County, New York, Republicans last month called for the removal of their congressman, citing his lies.
“He’s not a normal person,” said County Executive Bruce Blakeman. “He needs to get help.”
“He’s not welcome here,” Nassau committee GOP Chairman Joseph Cairo said of the county’s Republican headquarters. “We do not consider him one of our congresspeople.”
McCarthy distances himself from Santos: ‘I have new questions’
McCarthy started off the 118th Congress saying any potential removal of Santos should be decided by voters.
But earlier this month he started to distance himself from the beleaguered lawmaker, agreeing that his resignation from House committees was the right move.
“I think it’s better that Santos is not on committees right now until he clears up these issues,” McCarthy told reporters.
When asked why it was good for Santos to step down weeks after being seated on committees, McCarthy said, “I had some new questions.” The speaker didn’t describe his questions.
“I think going through ethics will answer some others,” McCarthy said. “I think until he goes through that, it would be better that he doesn’t serve on committees.”
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told USA TODAY he believes the power to remove Santos should stay with the voters in his district. “We have two-year elections for a reason.”
‘It’s time for him to go‘: Democrats move to expel George Santos
Led by Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., Democrats on Thursday moved to expel Santos from Congress, a rare procedure that requires a two-thirds vote in the House.
Garcia, who referred a resolution to the House Ethics Committee, called Santos a fraud and a liar.
“It’s time for him to go,” Garcia said. “We have given him plenty of time to resign and he has chosen not to do so.”
Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., said Santos defrauded his voters, calling the congressman a “conman.” Republicans should have called on Santos to resign from his seat, he said.
“If there was a Democrat who lied up and down as George Santos did, we as Democrats would never accept this within our own party and it’s time for the Republican party to do the right thing,” Goldman said.
House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday morning the resolution “speaks for itself.”
“George Santos is a complete and utter and total fraud and that fraud was perpetrated on the American people with aid and comfort from the extreme MAGA Republican establishment and they are still coddling him here in the United States Congress,” he said.
Courtesy/Source: This article originally appeared on USA TODAY