One day after meeting with Speaker-for-now Kevin McCarthy, serial fabulist George Santos told yet another lie. Of course he did.

In a Tuesday meeting with Republican House colleagues, Santos told them he was temporarily stepping aside from his two House committee assignments until, as McCarthy would later put it, Santos “can clear everything up.” Meanwhile, McCarthy added, anyone named to the committees in Santos’ place would be serving on a temporary basis.

The problem — well, the latest problem — for Santos is that temporary, in this case, actually means forever because the surest bet in American politics today is that Santos will never clear up anything, much less everything. 

The real question for Santos is how long he’ll remain in the House. According to the latest polling of his congressional district — New York’s 3rd — 78% said Santos should resign, including 71% of Republicans and 63% of those who say they voted for him last November.

McCarthy had named Santos to the least prominent committees he could think of — the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Small Business — but there’s nowhere to hide Santos. I mean, someone even found pictures of Santos dressed in drag in Brazil. Many in the LGBTQ community could only laugh. As we know, falsely accusing those in drag shows of grooming children is the GOP’s latest bizarre contribution to the never-ending culture wars. 

It’s hard to hide when you’re being investigated by federal prosecutors for possible campaign finance fraud and when it seems every news site in America is looking to uncover yet another Santos fabrication. The New York Times got an early start by breaking the story that Santos’ resume was either embellished or, in most cases, entirely made up.

And at last count — and thanks to New York magazine for the rundown — we have Santos lying about where he went to high school, where (or if) he went to college, his religion, his identity, his mother’s death being tied to 9/11, his grandmother’s status as Holocaust survivor, where he got his money, whether he has any money, whether he founded a dog charity. And, come on, did he really swindle a homeless vet out of $3,000 in GoFundMe contributions raised to save the vet’s dog?

 Do I have to go on? And on? And on?

But the real lie — a more typical political fiction — is why Santos actually stepped aside. Obviously, McCarthy made him do it, surely threatening to call a caucus vote to remove him if Santos refused. 

But why?

This is where it gets interesting. For one thing, after unilaterally kicking prominent Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell off the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week, McCarthy defended the move by saying he wanted people of “genuine honesty and credibility” on the committee. As if, you know, he hadn’t appointed the honest and credible Santos to two committees.

Secondly, it was a promised bit of revenge for Democrats’ 2021 removal of not-so-prominent House Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their committees. Of course, Greene and Gosar had made actual violent threats.

But here’s the real reason Santos had to go: McCarthy had promised to remove Democrat — and Lauren Boebert nemesis — Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for language that was seen by many as anti-semitic and for which she has since apologized. Of course, Omar, the only Muslim in the House to wear a hijab and a member of good standing of The Squad, has long been a target of a certain recent former president, who once called the Minnesota Democrat “our secret weapon.”

McCarthy could fire House Intelligence Committee members on his own because it’s a select committee and the Speaker has that right, just as then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi could refuse to seat several Republicans on the Jan. 6 select committee. But to remove Omar, McCarthy needs a vote of the entire House, and because of the GOP’s slim majority, he may not get a majority.

He has already lost three Republicans, including — yes — Ken Buck, who says he’s not interested in retaliatory politics. There are others still undecided. Matt Gaetz says he’s wavering. This is fascinating. We know about Boebert’s elevator-story relationship with Omar. And we know that Boebert is Buck’s fellow Coloradan. 

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If it comes to a vote — and it won’t if McCarthy doesn’t have enough support from his caucus — I’m pretty sure Boebert, who has basically called Omar a terrorist, would be a resounding no.

But here’s Buck telling Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that Republicans “should not engage in this tit for tat.”

To tell the truth, that’s an excellent point by Buck. And it’s one that McCarthy — who needed 15 rounds to be elected Speaker and who, as part of the bargain, agreed to place himself at permanent risk of losing his job — will have to face time and time again.

Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.

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Mike Littwin

Special to The Colorado Sun Email: Twitter: @mike_littwin