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Kevin McCarthy dodges questions about disgraced Republicans George Santos and Donald Trump

On Tuesday, Mr Trump was found liable of sexual abuse and Mr Santos was indicted on federal charges

Rachel Sharp
Wednesday 10 May 2023 15:02 BST
Kevin McCarthy dodges question on whether he 'stands' with Trump and Santos

Kevin McCarthy has managed to dodge questions about disgraced Republicans George Santos and Donald Trump – all the while claiming he would not “avoid” the question.

On Tuesday, the House Majority Leader was asked by a reporter to comment on the two prominent GOP figures, after Mr Trump was found liable of sexual abuse and Mr Santos was indicted on federal charges.

“Are you going to continue to stand by George Santos now that he’s been indicted on federal charges? And do you stand by President Trump after a jury found him liable for sexual abuse?” the reporter asked.

Mr McCarthy responded by saying: “I’m not going to avoid your question.”

He then proceeded to do just that as he skirted around the subjects without giving a definitive answer.

“But as you know, I’ve been at the White House. I haven’t seen the indictment,” he said.

“But as you know, with George Santos, I did not put him on any committees.”

He pointed to the examples of Senator Bob Menendez and Rep Jeff Fortenberry.

Mr Menendez was previously indicted on charges but found not guilty and is now serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr Fortenberry meanwhile was found guilty of charges last year and so Mr McCarthy asked him to resign from the House.

“In America, we’ll just follow the same pattern we always have, right? If a person is indicted, they’re not on committees, they have the right to vote. But they have to go to trial,” said Mr McCarthy.

If Mr Santos is found guilty, however, he might have to resign, he said.

“That is my policies and principles on this,” he said.

When pressed about his stance Mr Trump, Mr McCarthy then claimed he had been in “meetings” so was unaware of what was going on.

Kevin McCarthy was asked by a reporter to comment on the two prominent GOP figures (Getty Images)

“I – I don’t know. I’ve been in meetings,” he said.

His comments came after a Manhattan federal jury found that Mr Trump sexually abused Elle magazine columnist E Jean Carroll in a dressing room in Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s.

Ms Carroll, 79, sued the former president for raping her and then “destroying” her reputation when he accused of lying about the encounter, claiming that she wasn’t “my type”.

Across two weeks, jurors heard harrowing testimony from Ms Carroll as well as two other women who have accused Mr Trump of sexual assault.

In its verdict on Tuesday, the jury found that Mr Trump sexually abused Ms Carroll but did not find that she had proven that he raped her and so he was not found liable for rape.

As it is a civil case, Mr Trump does not face any jail time following the verdict but has been ordered to pay Ms Carroll almost $5m in damages for battery and defamation.

Hours after the verdict was handed down, news broke that embattled New York congressman Mr Santos had been indicted on federal criminal charges, according to multiple reports.

The exact nature of the charges aren’t yet public and remain under seal.

But they come following reports that Mr Santos was under investigation from the Justice Department over his campaign finances.

The New York congressman is expected to appear in federal court in New York’s eastern district as soon as Wednesday on the charges.

When reached for comment about the news on Tuesday, Mr Santos claimed he was unaware of the charges.

“This is news to me,” he told The Associated Press. “You’re the first to call me about this.”

Derek Myers, a former aide for the congressman, later tweeted that he had been working as a “confidential informant and human asset” for the FBI while working in his office.

Mr Santos has fallen under scrutiny ever since he was first exposed for making a series of lies on his resume.

Since then, his list of apparent falsehoods has continued to grow and he is now the focus of criminal and ethics investigations.

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