Santos told the meeting he was resigning because “he would be a distraction,” said one Republican lawmaker, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed session. The conversation came a day after Santos met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
House Small Business Committee Chairman Roger Williams (R-Tex.) said he understands the withdrawal is temporary until Santos is cleared of the ongoing investigation. The 34-year-old freshman Republican faces increasing scrutiny, including a federal probe into his campaign finances and local probes into his résumé falsification, as misrepresentations about his experience, personal life and education were revealed.
“It surprised me, but it was probably the right decision,” Williams said.
“With the ethics investigation pending, I think this is the right decision,” the congressman said. Michael Lawler (RN.Y.), who also called on Santos to resign.
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After the meeting, Santos declined to comment, saying: “If you want details related to the committee, I think you should talk to the leadership.”
The announcement came on the same day that polls in his district showed a strong majority of voters thought he should resign. A Newsday-Siena College poll found that more than three-quarters of registered voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District said he should leave office.
Santos has given no indication that he intends to give up the seat voluntarily.
Republicans in his Long Island district and several members of the House GOP called on Santos to resign. McCarthy, a Republican with a slim majority, rejected those calls, however.
John Wagner contributed to this report.