Jan 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy stands by Santos as GOP calls for his resignation mount

Photo of Kevin McCarthy speaking while gesturing with his right hand

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 12. Photo: Shuran Huang/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday defended the place of Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) in Congress amid reports that Santos fabricated large swaths of his résumé and probes into his financial disclosures, campaign finances and outstanding legal issues.

Why it matters: While the controversy presents yet another headache for McCarthy, who has struggled to establish his leadership in the House, the GOP's slim five-seat majority means he can't afford to lose Santos, especially with a new House rule that allows just one member to trigger a vote to remove the speaker.

What he's saying: When asked if he can trust someone like Santos to access top-secret information at a news conference Thursday, McCarthy said, "He’s got a long way to go to earn trust."

  • "You apply the Constitution equal to all Americans. The voters of his district have elected him. He is seated. He is part of the Republican Conference," he added, though he did not address the fact that voters could have been misled by Santos' alleged fabrications.
  • "There are concerns with it, so he will go before [the] Ethics [Committee]. If anything is found to be wrong, he will be held accountable exactly as anybody else in this body would be."

McCarthy has claimed "a lot of people here" have fabricated parts of their résumés.

  • "Look, he is going to have to build the trust here," he said. "And he’s going to have the opportunity to try to do that."

The big picture: Santos has faced growing calls to resign from both Republicans and Democrats in recent days.

Go deeper: McCarthy’s George Santos problem

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