What Republicans Said About “Bad Guy” George Santos
WASHINGTON — The recent clash between Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and controversial freshman Rep. George Santos was a small part of the policy backlash the House member has faced.
Santos, who has faced backlash since admitting lies about his personal life and testimonies, is plagued by multiple state and federal investigations into his campaign finances, a complaint from House Ethics and calls for resignation by members of both parties.
Those calls grew louder this week when busloads of his constituents descended on Washington on Tuesday demanding his removal. And on Thursday, House Democrats introduced a resolution to bar him from Congress — a procedure rarely used throughout history.
But Santos told USA TODAY on Thursday that he would not resign despite fresh 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 Republicans have not been silent. In fact, some were sharp-tongued. Here’s what they say:
Romney calls Santos ‘a sick pup’
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 investigation he was facing, Romney found Santos sitting in an aisle seat a brazen and shameless act.
“I didn’t expect him to be standing there trying to shake hands with every senator and the President of the United States,” Romney told reporters after the speech. “He should sit in the back row and remain calm, rather than parading in front of the President and people entering the room.”
Santos lied about graduating college, being a volleyball star, having a resume that didn’t exist on Wall Street, his background and more.
“He’s a sick pup,” 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 was at all ashamed he wouldn’t be there.”
GOP Conflict:Mitt Romney calls George Santos ‘a sick pup’ after Biden State of the Union.
GOP congressman said Santos was ‘a joke’
Rep. Dusty Johnson, a Republican from South Dakota and a key ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, joins a growing number of members of his party who believe the new lawmaker from New York does not belong in Congress.
“George Santos is a joke and he shouldn’t be in Congress,” Johnson told USA TODAY on Thursday.
But Johnson hesitated with a Democratic decision to expel Santos.
“It’s the voters who decide who to hire and fire,” he said. “Before we start vetoing voters’ decision, I think we want to tread really carefully.”
Look deeper:Republican George Santos ends the month in Congress with fewer friends, more questions
Mace taunted Santos at the convention dinner
Representative Nancy Mace, RS.C., included some Santos roasts in her speech Wednesday night at the annual convention dinner.
“I know George Santos was hoping to deliver tonight’s keynote,” but organizers wanted “someone who can tell a joke but isn’t really one,” Mace said in one of her opening lines.
GOP Congressman calls Santos ‘a sociopath’
Republican Rep. Nick LaLota of New York called Santos “a sociopath” on CNN Wednesday morning.
“It’s become an embarrassment and distraction for Republicans in the House of Representatives,” he said.
Comer on Santos: He’s ‘a villain’
Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Accountability Committee, described Santos as “a villain” in a CNN interview last month.
“I think Santos will be thoroughly investigated. It is his decision whether to resign or not. It’s not my decision. But I certainly don’t agree with how he made his way into Congress and I didn’t even introduce myself to him,” Comer said.
‘Not normal’ and ‘unwelcome’: NY GOP officials call for Santos to be removed
Republicans from Nassau County, New York last month called for the impeachment of their congressman, citing his lies.
“He’s not a normal person,” County Executive Bruce Blakeman said. “He needs help.”
“He’s not welcome here,” Nassau Committee GOP Chair Joseph Cairo said of the county’s Republican headquarters. “We don’t consider him one of our congressmen.”
McCarthy distances himself from Santos: ‘I have new questions’
McCarthy began the 118th Congress by saying that the voters should decide whether Santos should be removed.
But earlier this month he began to distance himself from the beleaguered lawmaker, agreeing his resignation from House committees was the right move.
“I think it’s better that Santos isn’t on committees at the moment until he gets these issues sorted out,” McCarthy told reporters.
When asked why it was good for Santos to step down weeks after sitting on committees, McCarthy said, “I had some new questions.” The speaker didn’t describe his questions.
“I think going through ethics will answer a few others,” McCarthy said. “I think until he goes through that, he’d be better off not serving on committees.”
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told USA TODAY he believes the power to remove Santos should remain with voters in his district. “We have biennial elections for a reason.”
“It’s time for him to go”: Democrats want to exclude George Santos
Led by Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., Democrats voted Thursday to bar Santos from Congress, a rare procedure that requires a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives.
Garcia, who referred a resolution to the House Ethics Committee, called Santos a cheat and a liar.
“It’s time for him to go,” Garcia said. “We gave him plenty of time to resign and he chose not to do so.”
Rep. Dan Goldman, DN.Y., said Santos cheated his constituents, calling the congressman a “conman.” Republicans should have asked Santos to step down from his seat, he said.
“If there were a Democrat who lied like George Santos, we as Democrats would never accept that within our own party, and it’s time for the Republican Party to do the right thing,” Goldman said.
Democratic House Speaker Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday morning the resolution “speaks for itself.”
“George Santos is an absolute and utter fraud, and this fraud was perpetrated on the American people with the help and comfort of the extreme MAGA Republican establishment, and they are still coddling him here in the United States Congress,” he said.
Candy Woodall is a convention reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.