Rep. George Santos, Sen. Mitt Romney share tense exchange at State of the Union address

Wednesday, February 8, 2023
George Santos, Mitt Romney share tense exchange at State of the Union
Congressman George Santos attended the State of the Union and exchanged words with Mitt Romney during Joe Biden's speech. Chantee Lans has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Republican Rep. George Santos positioned himself in a prime location for President Joe Biden's State of the Union address - an uncomfortably prominent place for the embattled new lawmaker who faces multiple investigations and has acknowledged embellishing and even lying about his life story.

Santos' presence at the center aisle to see and be seen with the arrivals was met with a stern rebuke from a fellow Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney.

He reportedly told Santos, "You don't belong here."

Santos claimed he fired back called Romney the "A" word.

Romney is among the highest ranking Republicans to call out Santos for his lies.

Sen. Mitt Romney called embattled Rep. George Santos an "embarrassment" before President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address.

"I didn't expect that he'd be standing there trying to shake hands with every senator in the United States," Romney said. "Given the fact that he's under an ethics investigation, he should be sitting in the back row and staying quiet instead of parading in front of the president and people coming into the room."

Santos tweeted, "Hey @MittRomney just a reminder that you will NEVER be PRESIDENT!"

But the way things are going, many colleagues of Santos think he may not be a congressman for much longer with House Ethics complaints against him and criminal investigations underway looking into alleged lies and his campaign finances.

The arrival of Santos has been a problem for the Republicans since he won a New York congressional seat, which helped to deliver the party a slim majority, once his personal story began to unravel.

Santos has acknowledged fabricating, and at times lying, about parts of his education, work experience and even his family's own religion and history.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met privately with the congressman last week amid a swirl of potential investigations on and off Capitol Hill. Santos announced he would step aside from his committee assignments ahead of an expected House Ethics Committee probe.

McCarthy said Tuesday the situation with Santos would work its way through the House Ethics Committee. Fellow New York Republicans have called for Santos to resign from Congress. Santos faces other investigations beyond Congress.

Other Republicans heard the exchange and one Republican lawmaker who was told about it said there was widespread displeasure that Santos had situated himself in such a prominent spot. The lawmaker requested anonymity to discuss what others said about the subject.

The center aisle basically gave Santos the chance to seize the limelight by greeting the president and other prominent officials as they entered the House chamber and made their way down the aisle.

As senators entered the House in a line, it was then that Romney spotted Santos and delivered his message.

But Santos, as is often the case, had his moment, becoming for a time the face of the GOP.

Fellow Long Island Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, like Santos, attended his first State of the Union as a member of Congress. But unlike Santos, D'Esposito has been publicly meeting with his constituents in District 4.

"George Santos is a sociopath and at this point, I think he's actually enjoying all of the media coverage," D'Esposito said.

Congressman D'Esposito has already called on Santos' resignation

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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