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George Santos steps down from committees

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Embattled New York Republican Congressman George Santos is stepping down from his committee assignments. The move comes as outcry continues over his fabricated personal and professional biography. Santos dodged reporters today when asked to comment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GEORGE SANTOS: Questions will be answered to the appropriate people. The media is not judge and jury of anything.

CHANG: NPR congressional reporter Barbara Sprunt has more.

BARBARA SPRUNT, BYLINE: Questions around George Santos have been swirling since he arrived on Capitol Hill. The New York freshman has been under scrutiny over claims he deceived voters with false details about his biography, including his religion, family history, education and professional resume. A New York Times investigation has also called into question many of his claims around the source of his campaign funds. Santos has admitted to various fabrications but has denied other wrongdoing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why are you confident you'll be cleared?

SANTOS: I'm confident I'll be cleared because I have nothing to hide.

SPRUNT: On Tuesday, he told his colleagues he was making a change.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELISE STEFANIK: Now we just got out of conference, and George has voluntarily removed himself from committees as he goes through this process.

SPRUNT: That's Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who chairs the GOP conference. Santos was placed on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Small Business Committee. Roger Williams, who chairs the latter committee, said he was surprised by the move but supports the decision, saying the attention surrounding Santos was distracting.

ROGER WILLIAMS: For a while, the question I was getting asked by all of you is, where are you going to put him? Can you do this? It became about him. It's not about him. It's about our committee.

SPRUNT: The Texas Republican said Santos told his colleagues in a closed-door conference meeting that his recusal is temporary.

WILLIAMS: I think there's a threshold that he feels like that he's not the issue anymore. And when he hits that, it sounds like he wants to get back on committees and get going.

SPRUNT: Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was also at the meeting, said Santos was not pressured into stepping down from his committees by leadership.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: He just felt like that there was so much drama, really, over this situation.

SPRUNT: Several Republican members of the House as well as Republicans in his New York district have called on Santos to resign. But GOP leadership, who hold a narrow four-seat majority in the House, have said that decision should ultimately be left up to voters. Barbara Sprunt, NPR News, the Capitol.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAY-Z SONG, "COMING OF AGE (DA SEQUEL)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.