Embattled Rep. George Santos said he welcomes the protesters from his district who traveled to Capitol Hill to call for his resignation ahead of President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.
The New York Republican, who said he wants the president’s annual speech to be a “moment of unity,” said he understood the one dozen protesters who took a bus from his district to push House leadership to remove him from office.
“I 100% welcome anybody to protest,” Mr. Santos told The Washington Times. “I’m a rabble-rouser, right? That’s how I got here. It was really by protesting government and the inefficiencies of government and being a grassroots activist.”
Mr. Santos has been buried in controversy since after he was elected over accusations and his admissions that he fabricated large parts of his personal and professional life. He is under multiple local and federal investigations.
He said Tuesday that he wished the protesters had picked “a better day” and gave him a heads up so he could address their grievances.
“They did not give us enough heads up or even attempt to get on our calendar until it was 48 hours before they started bombing us with emails and requests, but as you can imagine this is a very fast-paced environment where 48 hours isn’t enough time,” Mr. Santos said. “I’ll sit with them, but we need to have a civil discussion.”
Mr. Santos invited Michael Weinstock, a Ground Zero volunteer firefighter, to the State of the Union speech. One of the lies Mr. Santos has been accused of making is his claim that his mother was in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, although immigration documents show that she was not in the U.S. at the time.
Mr. Weinstock is a former assistant district attorney in Brooklyn’s Special Victims Bureau and emergency medical technician as well as volunteer firefighter. He ran for Congress in Mr. Santos’ district in 2020, losing to former Rep. Tom Suozzi in the Democratic primary. Mr. Santos lost to Mr. Suozzi in the general election that year.
Mr. Weinstock said he accepted Mr. Santos’s invitation because he wants to bring attention to the disease of neuropathy, a neurological condition he suffers from due to toxins released from the crumbling World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
“I’m passionate about public service,” Mr. Weinstock said. “The important good deeds aren’t the easy ones. Was I thrilled about jumping into the controversy? No, but this is so important I couldn’t say no.”
• Mica Soellner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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