Republican George Santos became a fully-fledged member of the 118th Congress early Saturday morning, sworn in to represent a part of New York City and Long Island for, presumably, a two-year term.
So far, Santos has resisted calls to step down amid revelations over his background, which he appears to have largely fabricated. His fellow Republicans have also shown little appetite for pressuring him to resign.
The list of things he seems to have made up is staggering, including apparent falsehoods about his religious affiliation, educational background, ancestry ― even his mother’s death.
But whether he could face charges is still an open question.
Santos is facing investigations on the federal and local level: Authorities in Nassau County, New York, have pledged to prosecute any wrongdoing while federal prosecutors have said they are examining his finances.
Santos admitted to “overstat[ing]” and “embellishing” his resume after The New York Times said its reporters could not substantiate several basic details about him, such as that he worked for Goldman Sachs, graduated from Baruch College, or operated an animal rescue charity called Friends of Pets United. The Times report also cast doubt on the source of his income and wealth, finding scant evidence that his supposed family business really exists.
Questions also linger over how he financed his successful campaign. Santos beat out Democrat Robert Zimmerman by around eight points in November, becoming the first openly gay freshman Republican in the House.
“I am not a criminal,” he told The New York Post in late December.
“This [controversy] will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”
For their part, Santos’ new Republican colleagues do not appear to have given him the warmest of welcomes. After being mobbed by journalists as soon as he arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Santos was later pictured sitting alone during House Republicans’ protracted battle to elect a leader. However, as the week wore on, he was spotted chatting amicably with another controversial House Republican ― Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
Republicans finally chose Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to be House speaker late Friday night, allowing the members of Congress to be sworn in and officially seated.
Santos voted for McCarthy in all 15 rounds.