House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on Monday he doesn’t think embattled Rep. George Santos (R-NY) should run for reelection.
McCarthy let out a soft laugh when asked on Fox News if he’s supporting the re-election campaign.
“No, I am not,” said McCarthy as he chuckled. “He shouldn’t run for re-election.”
“We’re gonna keep that seat with another Republican,” he added, when asked if he is involved with recruiting another GOP candidate for Santos’ seat. Several Republicans and Democrats have already filed paperwork or launched official campaigns to challenge Santos in 2024, in the New York swing district that flipped from Democratic to Republican last year.
McCarthy has been vocal about growing the GOP’s razor thin majority in the House in the next election. Earlier this year, he launched a new joint fundraising committee, called Protect The House 2024, focused on expanding the Republican majority.
In May, Santos pleaded not guilty to a 13-count federal indictment that included seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives.
The first-term congressman is also under a House Ethics Committee investigation. The panel is looking into whether Santos “engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office.”
Last week the panel announced it would continue its investigation alongside the DOJ probe and said it would expand the scope of its inquiry to look into whether he fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits.
The New York Republican swiftly responded to McCarthy comments Monday, saying he has no intention of ending his reelection campaign.
“Dear Media,” Santos tweeted. “I plan on continuing to serve the people of NY3. Providing excellent constituent services to the people of NY03 and proposing common sense conservative legislation for the betterment of our nation. Speaker McCarthy’s comments do not change my intention of running.”
While McCarthy has previously said he wouldn’t support Santos’ reelection bid, this is the first time he’s said the freshman Republican shouldn’t run for reelection overall.
McCarthy has previously successfully shielded his caucus from having to weigh in publicly on whether Santos should remain in Congress. When Democrats tried to force a floor vote on expelling Santos from the House this spring, McCarthy called on the House Ethics Committee, a historically slow-moving panel, to move along its inquiry “rapidly.” House Republicans then filed a motion to refer the expulsion matter to the ethics panel, which passed along party lines.