Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that he had an uneasy feeling about George Santos, facing an expulsion vote this week, before the 2022 election and even predicted to two Fox News anchors that “something is going to come out on this guy.”
In a Q&A at The New York Times’ DeadBook Summit, McCarthy said that he tried to get someone else to run in Santos’ New York district, but “he had already kind of locked down and you couldn’t beat him.” So as the House Republican leader, McCarthy did a fundraiser for him “and I’m doing it for everybody.”
More from Deadline
“And I listened to him and I walked back and just say, ‘We shouldn’t fund this race. I don’t know what it is. But we shouldn’t fund this race.” He noted that the House GOP superPAC did not.
Then, a couple days before the election, McCarthy said that he was having a meeting with Fox News anchors Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer and they asked him for his predictions. “And I say, ‘I don’t know. We might win it. But I want to make one prediction to you. Within one year, something’s going to come out on this guy. I don’t know what it is, but it is just my gut feeling.'”
Much did come out on Santos before he was even sworn in to the seat, including that he falsified his background. But McCarthy said that he resisted calls to expel him at the time because of “due process.”
“So if I removed him from office because he lied, what lie equals removal, and what lie doesn’t, because we wouldn’t have anyone in office,” McCarthy said.
Instead, he sent Santos’ situation to the House Ethics Committee. They recently released a devastating report on Santos, claiming that he “blatantly stole from his campaign,” triggering an effort spearheaded by Democrats and Republicans to remove him. A vote is expected on the floor this week.
McCarthy also reflected on his own ouster as speaker. He said that he knew that “was going to be a challenge on the night of the election” because of the Republicans slim majority.
“The you have to understand about politics…somebody else hires and fires who works with me. I just have to inspire. So there’s some people I can inspire and there’s some people I need to get medication for. But it’s just what we need to do,” he said.
He continued to claim that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who led the effort to oust him, was upset about an ethics complaint filed against him, but as speaker “I can’t be involved in that.”
“If you think about this, we have a four seat majority but I have five people who never voted for me,” he said.
McCarthy also reiterated his support for Donald Trump in next year’s election, predicting that he would win if the race was against Joe Biden. But McCarthy clarified to moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin that he “didn’t say [that Trump would be] a great president. I said he’d be a better president.”
“If [Trump’s] campaign is about renew, rebuild and restore, he’ll win,” McCarthy said later in the Q&A. “If it’s about revenge, he’ll lose.”
McCarthy also said that he has not decided whether he will run for reelection to his California congressional seat, with the filing deadline on Dec. 8.
Best of Deadline