Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy told reporters Tuesday that Republican New York Rep. George Santos recusing himself from committee assignments was “an appropriate decision.”
Santos sat on the Small Business and Science, Space and Technology committees, despite requests from Democrats and some Republicans that he resign. The New York Republican is under criminal and campaign finance investigations for fabricating several portions of his employment, educational and family history.
McCarthy commended Santos’ decision, despite having previously affirmed he would not pressure the New York representative to step down from committees.
“I met with George Santos yesterday and I think it was an appropriate decision that, until he can clear everything up, that he’s off his committees right now,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “We had a discussion and he asked me if he could do that. So I thought it was an appropriate decision, yes.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says it was “an appropriate decision” for Republican Rep. George Santos to recuse himself from serving on committees “until he can clear everything up.” https://t.co/imXNBkGfx8 pic.twitter.com/QLBCURA1Bp
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 31, 2023
The speaker assured Santos will “have a voice” on the House floor and be permitted to serve on committees in the future.
“The voters have elected him, he’ll have a voice here in Congress,” he continued. “And until he answers all those questions, then he’ll, at that time, he’ll be able to be seated on committees.” (RELATED: Reporters Compare Schiff And Santos After McCarthy Kicks Dems From Committees)
McCarthy removed Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California from the House Intelligence Committee in January for allegedly posing a national security threat. Swalwell reportedly had a close association with Christine Fang, also known as “Fang Fang,” who allegedly worked on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party’s Ministry of State Security.
Fang reportedly assisted Swalwell in raising money for his 2014 reelection campaign and later interned in his congressional office. Then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee in January 2015, and the FBI briefed him on the matter shortly after his selection.
Schiff attempted to prevent the release of the Nunes memo, which disclosed how the FBI obtained warrants to bar a Trump campaign staffer from the secret FISA court in 2016, and did not inform the court that the information used to justify the warrant came from Democratic sources. Schiff released false claims in his own memo to counter the Nunes memo and accuse it of trying to undermine the FBI.
McCarthy criticized a reporter in mid-January for asking about Santos’ position on committees while removing Schiff and Swalwell from their seats.
“If you got the briefing I got from the FBI, you wouldn’t have Swalwell on any committee. And you’re gonna tell me other Democrats couldn’t fill that slot? He cannot get a security clearance in the private sector, so would you like to give him a government clearance?” McCarthy said.
“You asked me questions about [George] Santos. Have you asked the questions about Swalwell? Not only was he getting a clearance, he was inside an intel committee. He had more information than the majority of all the members. Did you ever raise that issue? No, but you should’ve,” he added.