The chorus of voices calling for embattled New York Rep. George Santos' resignation has grown to include Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who didn’t hold back during a tense exchange between the two before the State of the Union address, NBC News reports.
Romney, the Republican nominee for president in 2012, confronted Santos as he passed the freshman lawmaker after entering the House chamber ahead of President Biden’s joint address to Congress, according to the outlet.
The two were seen exchanging words before Romney walked away, leaving Santos looking noticeably annoyed. Romney later addressed the exchange with reporters.
“He’s a sick puppy," Romney said of Santos. "He shouldn’t have been there.
“Given the fact that he’s under an ethics investigation, he should be sitting in the back row and being quiet instead of parading in front of the president.”
Another member of Congress who was near the exchange told NBC News that Romney told Santos he does not belong in Congress.
Santos, who represents the 3rd District in Nassau County and parts of Queens, appeared to confirm that account in a shot at Romney posted on Twitter hours later.
“Hey @MittRomney just a reminder that you will NEVER be PRESIDENT!” he wrote.
Tuesday’s exchange came hours after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy confirmed for the first time that Santos is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee amid growing questions around his campaign finances.
Speaking with reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 7, McCarthy said the panel will take action depending on what members find.
“Right now we’re not allowing (Santos) to be on committees from the standpoint of the questions that have arisen,” McCarthy said.
The investigation arose after House Democrats filed a complaint against Santos demanding a formal look into his financial disclosure reports.
A nonprofit group has also filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), accusing Santos of illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses and hiding the sources of his campaign donations.
Santos has found himself embroiled in controversy since admitting that he lied about much of his background in the lead-up to the 2022 midterm elections, including where he previously worked and went to school.
He is also facing investigations by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
A Siena College poll in late January 2023 found that among New York’s registered voters, nearly two-thirds of Democrats and 59 percent of independents think Santos should resign.
A strong plurality of Republicans, 49 percent, also said he should step down. Just 17 percent of voters think he should remain in office.
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