Rep. George Santos tells GOP colleagues he won’t serve on House committees

Washington — Embattled Republican Rep. George Santos of New York will recuse himself from serving on House committees, he told his GOP colleagues in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, two Republican aides in the meeting confirmed to CBS News.

Santos was assigned to the House Small Business Committee and Science, Space and Technology Committee earlier this month by House Republican leaders. His decision to forgo seats on the two panels comes a day after Santos met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Capitol Hill, though McCarthy has not disclosed what they discussed.

In the meeting of the House Republican conference, Santos apologized to his colleagues for being a distraction, the two sources told CBS News. GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the chair of the Republican conference and a supporter of Santos during his congressional campaign, told reporters following the meeting that he “voluntarily removed himself” from House committees.

An aide to Santos said in a statement that he is “reserving his seats on his assigned committees until he has been properly cleared of both campaign and personal financial investigations.”

The Republican lawmaker, who represents New York’s 3rd Congressional District and has admitted to fabricating key parts of his biography, is under scrutiny by state and federal prosecutors. He’s also the target of complaints to the Federal Election Commission over his campaign spending and the House Ethics Committee regarding the filing of his financial disclosure reports.

Santos is facing calls to resign, including from fellow Republicans in the New York congressional delegation, but has rebuffed calls to step down. McCarthy has also declined to take any action against Santos, instead saying his future in Congress will be determined by the voters of his district.

The speaker was asked about the decision to place Santos on two House panel in an interview with “Face the Nation” on Sunday, and said Santos, along with all other lawmakers elected to the House, “have a right to serve,” including on a committee.

McCarthy, though, has blocked two House Democrats, Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, from sitting on the House Intelligence Committee, which he has the power to do unilaterally. He has also pledged to hold a vote to keep Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, from serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, though at least three GOP lawmakers oppose the move.

Amid the questions about background and campaign finances, a pair of New York Democrats called on McCarthy to block Santos from having access to classified information, saying they have “serious concerns” about the GOP lawmaker.

“The numerous concerning allegations about his behavior over decades put his character into question, and suggest he cannot be trusted with confidential and classified information that could threaten the United States’ national security,” Reps. Gregory Meeks and Joe Morelle wrote in a letter.

Caitlin Huey-Burns contributed to this report.

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