“If for some way when we go through Ethics and he has broken the law, then we will remove him,” McCarthy said, according to The Hill.
McCarthy has so far resisted calls to sack Santos, even from members of his own party, saying he was elected by voters in his district and has an obligation to serve them.
“He has a responsibility to uphold what they voted for, to work and have their voice here, but at any time, if it rises to a legal level, we will deal with it then,” McCarthy said.
The timeline for the Ethics probe McCarthy hinted at is unclear, as is whether a formal investigation by that committee is already underway.
McCarthy has appointed Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) to lead the committee.
New York Democratic Reps. Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres filed a complaint with the Ethics Committee earlier this month, calling for an investigation into Santos’ financial disclosures.
“Mr. Santos’s financial disclosure reports in 2020 and 2022 are sparse and perplexing,” they wrote. “At a minimum, it is apparent that he did not file timely disclosure reports for his most recent campaign. Moreover, his own public statements have contradicted some information included in the 2022 financial disclosure and confirmed that the 2022 financial disclosure failed to disclose other required information.”
He is also accused of violating campaign finance laws, in a complaint the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Apart from the several state and federal investigations Santos is facing, he is the subject of a criminal probe in Brazil.
Santos has admitted to fabricating several aspects of his academic and education record. He claimed he studied at Baruch College and New York University, but the two institutions have no record of his attendance. He also said he worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, but neither company has a record of his employment.
Still, McCarthy appointed him to serve on two committees: the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
However, the Republican speaker refused to seat Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff, both of California, on the House Intelligence Committee.
“Integrity matters more,” McCarthy wrote in a letter notifying House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) of his decision, with critics pointing out the hypocrisy given the appointment of extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on both the oversight and Homeland Security committees and McCarthy’s treatment of Santos.
McCarthy has previously said he “always had a few questions” about Santos’ resume despite endorsing him and supporting his campaign.
Santos was among Republicans who chose not to attend a White House reception hosted for first-time lawmakers Tuesday.