New York Republican Rep. George Santos is expected to face an investigation from the House Ethics Committee, a probe that could derail his already imperiled political career depending on the secretive panel’s findings.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy initially told CNN “yes” on Tuesday when asked if the embattled freshman is under investigation by the committee, something that even Republicans acknowledge could lead to his expulsion from Congress if the panel turns up serious evidence of wrongdoing.
But McCarthy later clarified his remarks and said that he meant that Santos is the subject of ethics committee complaints.
“There are questions. I expect them to get answered,” he said when asked if he expected the panel to probe Santos.
McCarthy has so far not called on Santos to resign, saying previously his fate should be decided by voters. But he has increasingly suggested that the House ethics probe could change his posture to the freshman, who hails from a swing district that President Joe Biden carried by eight points in 2020.
“Ethics is moving through, and if ethics finds something, we’ll take action,” McCarthy told CNN on Tuesday when asked about calls for his resignation. “Right now, we’re not allowing him to be on committees from the standpoint of the questions that have arisen.”
Santos has voluntarily stepped down from two House committees even though McCarthy and his allies initially awarded him the spots. McCarthy later said that he had “new questions” about the freshman but declined to say what those were, indicating he agreed with Santos’ decision to step down from those panels.
So far, Santos, who is facing a list of growing questions about fabricating his past and about his campaign finances, has been defiant, insisting he would continue to serve in the House.
On Tuesday, Santos told CNN he is “not concerned” about the House ethics probe or about New York constituents calling on him to resign.
“You’re saying that the freedom of speech of my constituents is a distraction to my work?” Santos said. “Do you think people are a distraction to the work I’m doing here?”
But even some fellow New York GOP freshmen say it’s time for Santos to hang it up.
“As I’ve said consistently, I think he ought to resign and really take stock of himself and start being honest, not only with the people he serves, but with himself,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro, a New York GOP freshman.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Kit Maher contributed to this report.