Santos told the meeting he will step down because “he’s a distraction,” according to a Republican lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting. The conversation comes one day after Santos met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
House Small Business Committee Chairman Roger Williams (R-Tex.) said he understood that the withdrawal is temporary until Santos is cleared of ongoing investigations. The 34-year-old freshman Republican has faced increased scrutiny, including a federal probe into his campaign finances and local investigation into his resume fabrications, since the revelation of his misrepresentations of his experience, personal life and education.
“It took me by surprise but it was probably the right decision,” Williams said.
“Without the ethics investigation being complete, I think it’s the right decision,” said Rep. Michael Lawler (R-N.Y.), who had also called on Santos to resign.
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Emerging from the meeting, Santos declined to comment, saying, “I think you should talk to leadership if you want details pertaining to committees.”
The announcement comes the same day polling in his district showed the vast majority of voters believe he should resign. More than three-quarters of registered voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District said he should leave his job, the Newsday-Siena College poll found.
Santos has given no indication that he plans to voluntarily give up his seat.
Republicans in his Long Island-based district and several members of the House GOP have called for Santos to resign. However, McCarthy, who has a razor-thin GOP majority, has rebuffed those calls.
John Wagner contributed to this report.