McCarthy—whose Republican Party holds the House majority by only a few seats and who needs every vote he can get—sought to defend Santos, even as the latter’s list of tall tales seems to grow longer by the hour.
“What are the charges against him?” McCarthy asked reporters, in what he clearly thought was a bump-set-spike of a response. “In America today, you’re innocent till proven guilty. So just because somebody doesn’t like the press you have, it’s not me that can oversay what the voters say.”
But as fate would have it, Santos has been charged—in Brazil, where he is accused of fraud for stealing a checkbook in 2008 and using it to make purchases. He is also at the center of three other criminal probes.
Federal prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York are looking into Santos’s finances and financial disclosures. The Nassau County district attorney is investigating Santos over the falsehoods in his résumé, although the office has not said what specifically it will be looking at. New York Attorney General Letitia James has said her office will investigate Santos and his multiple apparent fabrications.
The freshman congressman was also hit with two ethics complaints this week, one to the House Ethics Committee over his financial disclosures and one to the Federal Election Commission for alleged misrepresentation and misuse of campaign funds.
Santos has already received multiple calls to resign from Democrats, and on Wednesday alone, three House Republicans also urged him to step down. Leaders of the Republican Party in Nassau County, which Santos represents, called for him to resign, as well.
House Republican leadership, though, seems almost loath to even chastise Santos. Both McCarthy and Majority Leader Steve Scalise have evaded questions about Santos, and the New York Republican will still receive committee assignments (but don’t worry, they’ll be lower-tier ones).