WASHINGTON — George Santos, the 34-year-old New York Republican who has confessed to lying about part of his background, was sworn into the House early Saturday amid several investigations into his campaign and calls for him to resign.
Santos officially took office when the new Congress was convened after Republicans finally elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as House speaker. He consistently voted for McCarthy over the protracted voting process, which began Tuesday.
Overall, Santos does not appear to have gotten a warm welcome from his GOP colleagues. During the numerous speaker votes, he was often seen sitting by himself, although on at least one occasion he was photographed chatting with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
Santos was elected in November to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District, covering a part of Queens and Long Island’s North Shore, beating Democrat Robert Zimmerman. He is the first openly LGBTQ Republican to be elected to Congress.
Santos has faced intense scrutiny after The New York Times published a bombshell investigation last month indicating that much of his résumé 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.
The report also raised questions about how Santos was able to lend his campaign $700,000 after having claimed on a campaign finance form in 2020 that he was making $55,000 a year.
In a number of media appearances, Santos acknowledged but downplayed the fabrications. He told the New York Post in a Dec. 26 article: "My sins here are embellishing my résumé. I’m sorry."
He admitted, for example, that he did not graduate from Baruch College or any institution of higher learning.
"I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my résumé," he said, according to the paper. "I own up to that. … We do stupid things in life."
As for his claim that he worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, Santos told the Post that it was "a poor choice of words," and he said he did business with them when he was the vice president of a company called LinkBridge.
And despite having presented himself as Jewish during his congressional campaigns, Santos told the Post, "I never claimed to be Jewish."
"I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was 'Jew-ish,'" he added.
The remarks came after the news outlet The Forward questioned a claim on Santos’ campaign website that his grandparents "fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution during WWII." The outlet also noted that Santos had called himself a "proud American Jew" in a position paper that was shared with Jewish and pro-Israel leaders during his campaign.
Santos is under investigation by the Nassau County district attorney and federal prosecutors in New York. Law enforcement sources have said federal authorities are examining his finances, including potential irregularities involving financial disclosures and loans he made to his campaign.
The state attorney general's office has also said it's "looking into a number of issues" regarding Santos.
McCarthy and Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., who led the House GOP's campaign arm during the 2022 election cycle, have ignored questions from reporters about Santos and whether he should be seated.
Santos, meanwhile, has largely ignored questions from reporters about his background and plans in the Capitol in the past week while expressing his support for McCarthy in the speaker's race.
Asked Friday by NBC News whether he received assurances from McCarthy about committee assignments in exchange for his support, Santos said, "I have no need to have those conversations."
Several House Democrats have criticized Santos, none more than Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York, who has taken to trolling Santos on social media.
Torres has also proposed legislation called the Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act, or the SANTOS Act. It would require candidates to disclose their employment, educational and military histories under oath.
Former Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who recently retired from Congress, said Sunday that Santos should consider resigning. "This is troubling in so many ways. Certainly, he’s lied repeatedly," Brady said on Fox News. "He certainly is going to have to consider resigning."