WASHINGTON - Representative George Santos, R-N. Y., said Tuesday he will recuse himself from committee assignments until his ongoing ethics issues are resolved.
Santos, who has admitted to lying about much of his background and has faced numerous calls to resign from Congress, was assigned seats on the House Small Business and Science Committees. He shared his decision during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning with the House GOP Conference, Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N. Y. told reporters at a press conference afterward.
Santos told his colleagues that he was stepping aside from committees to not be a distraction, according to lawmakers in the room.
A Santos spokeswoman confirmed his decision to NBC News.
He has reserved the right to see it until he has cleared up both campaign and personal financial investigations.
The GOP Steering Committee, led by McCarthy, voted earlier this month to give Santos slots on the panels, which are two of the less-profile ones on Capitol Hill.
Members of both parties expressed concerns about Santos having access to classified information through his work on committees. At the same time, all lawmakers are able to sit in on classified briefings, such as those provided by administration officials.
In a poll released Tuesday from Newsday and Siena College, 71% of voters in Santos district said McCarthy should not have Santos seated on the two committees and 78% said they believed he should resign from Congress. Stefanik said the process will play itself out in the next election, asked Tuesday if Santos should step down.
McCarthy said last week that if the House Ethics Committee finds he broke the law, the freshman congressman will be removed from office if he stands by Santos.
Santos was under scrutiny after The New York Times published a bombshell investigation in December indicating that much of his r sum appeared to have been manufactured, including claims that he owned numerous properties, was previously employed by Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and had graduated from Baruch College. He has also lied about how his mother was at the World Trade Center during the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Santos is being investigated by the Nassau County district attorney and federal prosecutors in New York. The federal authorities are examining his finances, including possible irregularities involving financial disclosures and loans he made to his campaign, according to law enforcement sources. The state attorney general's office also said it is looking into a number of issues related to Santos.
The congressman has repeatedly stated that he plans to explain the inconsistencies but has not followed through on those promises.