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Rep. Santos says he’ll resign if ‘142 people’ ask. Why 142?

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Embattled newly elected U.S. Rep. George Santos on Thursday told reporters he would resign from office if 142 people asked him to, as fallout continues from numerous falsehoods he told about his life story during the campaign.

“If 142 people ask for me to resign, I will resign,” Santos replied to reporters as he hurriedly exited a Capitol Hill office and entered an elevator.

It’s uncertain how he settled on 142 or what significance that figure holds. It’s possible Santos meant to say “142,000,” which would be about the number of New Yorkers who voted for him in the 3rd Congressional District.

Numerous state and local Republican leaders in New York on Wednesday called for Santos’ immediate resignation.

Initially, the victory by Santos, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, was seen as a bright spot for the party in an otherwise underwhelming midterm election. But as reports began to emerge that Santos had lied about having Jewish ancestry, a career at top Wall Street firms and a college degree, he turned into a distraction and an embarrassment to the party as it took control of the House.

During his campaign, he referred to himself as “a proud American Jew.” But he later backtracked on that claim, saying his mother’s family had “a Jewish background,” and he told the New York Post in an interview, “I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”

The state and local parties of New York have no mechanism to remove Santos from office, according to The Associated Press. He was sworn in to the U.S. House last week after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s marathon session to claim the House speaker gavel, during which Santos voted for him 15 consecutive times.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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