(This Feb. 7 story has been refiled to restore dropped word “he” to the first sentence)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Mitt Romney told embattled fellow Republican Representative George Santos on Tuesday that he should not be in Congress and shouldn’t have taken a central seat at President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
Romney, an elder statesman of the party and former Republican presidential candidate, was seen having a brief exchange with Santos, who has made multiple false claims about his past on his way into the House of Representatives chamber before the address.
“He shouldn’t be in Congress and they’re going to go through the process and hopefully get him out,” Romney told reporters after the speech. “But he shouldn’t be there and if he had any shame at all he wouldn’t be there.”
Romney said he had told Santos as much.
Santos, who represents a New York district, had taken a seat along the center aisle of the chamber, which the president, members of this Cabinet, Supreme Court justices and senators use to enter the hall.
Santos is facing ethics complaints from fellow members of Congress, but the House Ethics Committee has yet to organize for the next two years and thus cannot launch any potential investigation, an aide to Speaker Kevin McCarthy said earlier on Tuesday.
Santos has apologized for “embellishing” his resume but has rebuffed calls for his resignation from constituents and fellow New York state Republicans, saying he would vacate his seat only if he loses the next election, in 2024.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)