In a surprise move, Rep. George Santos told Republican conference members that he would be stepping down from his committee assignments for a time, according to people familiar with the conversation.
The gay New York congressman, who has admitted to lying about significant portions of his biography and about whom new revelations seem to surface daily, told a closed-door meeting of GOP members Tuesday morning that he would be stepping down to avoid further unwanted attention.
Politico reporter Olivia Beavers broke the news on Twitter.
"NEW: sources tells me Rep. Santos informed conference that he is stepping off his committees," she tweeted.
A Republican lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity said Santos told the meeting he would resign because "he is a distraction," the Washington Postreports.
Santos was appointed to the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology recently.
News of Santos's decision to step aside from committees — which he has not confirmed publicly — comes amid news that more than 78 percent of registered voters in his district want him to resign (including 71 percent of Republicans), according to a Newsday-Siena College poll.
Santos has been vehement that he would not resign, though he did say that if 142,000 people asked him to leave, he would.
Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News tweeted that Santos had met with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy on Monday.
McCarthy had recently stood by the freshman congressman despite growing calls from fellow Republicans for Santos to resign.
Santos's vote was crucial for McCarthy's securing of the speakership, and with a slim majority in the House, he only has four votes of support that he could lose to accomplish anything.
Santos has continued to dodge media questions, including requests for comment by The Advocate.
However, Tuesday afternoon, amid a chaotic scene surrounded by members of the press, Santos replied to an ABC news reporter’s question about whether McCarthy had told him to step aside.
“Nobody tells me to do anything. I made the decision on my own that I thought best represented the interest of the voters,” Santos said.
Shortly after the interaction, Santos issued his first statement — containing typos — regarding the matter.
“With the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared,” Santos said in the statement.
He added, “This was a decision that I take very seriously. The business of the 118thCongress must continue without media fanfare. It is important that I primarily focus on serving the constituents of New York’s Third Congressional District and providing federal level representation without distraction.”
He said he remained committed to serving his constituents and thanked McCarthy for allowing him the time to clear his name before returning to the committees.
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene described Santos’s move as “bold” as she left the GOP’s closed-door conference meeting Tuesday morning, NPR reports.
“He just felt like that there is so much drama really over the situation,” she said.
Greene added, “Mr. Santos’ statement in there was just saying that he spoke with Speaker McCarthy and made this decision on his own.”
This is a developing story and has been updated to reflect Rep. Santos's statement regarding his decision to temporarily step down from committee assignments.