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GOP leaders in New York call on Rep. Santos to resign and give up his House seat

DWANE BROWN, HOST:

Freshman congressman George Santos is facing mounting pressure from within his own party. Yesterday, New York Republicans urged Santos to give up his congressional seat. He actually admitted to lying about his background, his education and his work history. He faces an ethics complaint about how his campaign was funded, and a district attorney in his district is also investigating. Santos said yesterday he's not resigning. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman is one of the local GOP leaders calling for Santos' resignation. He spoke with co-host A Martínez.

A MARTÍNEZ, BYLINE: So first off, tell us why you're calling for Santos to resign.

BRUCE BLAKEMAN: Well, I think it's very clear that the people of the 3rd Congressional District have completely lost confidence in George Santos. His whole resume is a pack of lies. I think the most serious one was the fact that his parents were Holocaust survivors. Nassau County is home to over 300,000 people who identify themselves as being Jewish. I'm, in fact, the first Jewish county executive. And many of these people have family that were lost in the Holocaust. And by making that totally false assertion, that trivializes everything that their families went through. Quite frankly, I can't trust him anymore, so I'm not going to deal with his office going forward. I'm going to take other measures in order to have proper channels with the federal government, but it will not be through George Santos' office.

MARTÍNEZ: The thing is, though, lying to voters isn't necessarily a criminal offense, and he has said that he will not resign. At this point, are you just at a crossroads, in that all you can really do is pressure him to try and resign?

BLAKEMAN: George Santos has to understand that he's a young man. And if he has any chance of rehabilitating himself, he's going to have to do a couple of things. And the first thing he's going to have to do is remove the stain that he is on his congressional district and on the House of Representatives by resigning. Then, he has to apologize. And then he has to seek help because, obviously, he's a very troubled young man, and the things he did are not normal.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, Santos has insisted that he has done nothing that amounts to criminal behavior. The Nassau County district attorney, though, has opened up a probe into some of his lies. What do you hope to find through that?

BLAKEMAN: The district attorney of Nassau County, Anne Donnelly, has an investigation. There were media reports that the U.S. attorney's office for the eastern district is investigating, and I'm quite certain that the House Ethics Committee is going to investigate. And he has confessed that his whole resume was a lie.

MARTÍNEZ: I know it hasn't been that long that he's been in office, but is there anything to suggest that he has not been able to be effective on his job?

BLAKEMAN: Yes, I have completely found it untenable to deal with him or his office, and I do not want to deal with someone who is a liar. It's not just a question of me wanting not to deal with him. The fact of the matter is, how can the people of the 3rd Congressional District be served adequately when they have an elected official whose whole life is based on a lie, and he hasn't even accepted that yet?

MARTÍNEZ: Santos won his seat by narrowly defeating a Democrat. Are you concerned, that if somehow he winds up being expelled from Congress, that Republicans will lose one of their seats in the House?

BLAKEMAN: Well, this has transcended politics. This is about good government. And I believe, that if George Santos continues to serve, that he will not be adequately representing the people of his district, which is half the size of my county. So I don't see how he can effectively represent half of the county that I was elected to represent.

MARTÍNEZ: Do you wish national GOP leaders would be more loud in how they feel about George Santos, considering that it seems like this could be a slam dunk to talk about?

BLAKEMAN: Well, I think that our national leaders will speak up about George Santos, knowing now that the local elected officials in that congressional district will not have anything to do with him and certainly will not support any candidacy of his in the future.

MARTÍNEZ: So if, six months from now, we're still in the same place, and George Santos is still serving his seat in Congress, where would we be at that point? Is it business not getting done in Nassau County? Or, at the very least, will you be able to find some kind of middle ground?

BLAKEMAN: Well, the good news is that we have a great working relationship in Nassau County with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. So we can certainly go through him. We still have Congressmen Anthony D'Esposito and Andrew Garbarino. So I'm very confident that issues on a federal level that affect Nassau County will be addressed.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County executive, a Republican calling for George Santos to resign. Thank you very much for your time.

BLAKEMAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.