Republican Rep.-elect George Santos struggled to explain his lies in a withering Fox News interview on Tuesday night, as outrage continued about gaping holes in his biography.
“I'm not a fraud, I'm not a fake, I didn't materialize from thin air,” Santos told former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who was filling in as host on “Tucker News Tonight.”
When pressed by Gabbard on his supposed Jewish heritage, Santos quipped he’s always “identified as Jewish.”
“I've always joked with friends in circles, even in the campaign, I'd say, ‘guys, I'm Jew-ish.' Remember I was raised Catholic,” he said. “So look, I understand everybody wants to nitpick at me.”
Santos is facing a growing chorus of calls to step down from Democrats before his term begins in January. While some Republican leaders and groups have also blasted the lies, many have stopped short of calling for his resignation.
The Long Island Republican beat Democrat Robert Zimmerman with 52% of the vote in November for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers a part of Long Island’s North Shore stretching across northern Nassau County and into a sliver of northeastern Queens.
Santos campaigned on being a successful, openly gay and Jewish businessman and property owner.
But last week, a New York Times investigation raised serious questions about those claims. Baruch College said he never studied there. Santos never worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, as he had claimed. And instead of a successful career in real estate, the newspaper found that landlords had tried to evict Santos multiple times. Santos also faced criminal charges for check fraud in Brazil – an allegation he continues to deny.
Further reporting in The Jewish Daily Forward found genealogy records that showed his grandparents living in Brazil before the Nazis rose to power, calling into question Santos’ claim that they fled during the Holocaust.
And The Daily Beast revealed he’d divorced his wife just three years ago, a few weeks before launching his first bid for Congress in 2020.
Questions remain about the origins of a $700,000 loan he made to his own congressional campaign.
Since the Times' report, certain aspects of Santos’ biography have been scrubbed from his campaign website, according to archived versions of the site on the Wayback Machine.
References to his “Jewish grandparents who fled persecution in Ukraine, and later fled Belgium during World War II” were removed, as were references to his father’s “Angolan roots,” his attendance at Baruch College, and a mention that he “lives on Long Island with his husband, Matt, and their four dogs.”
Asked by Gabbard if he had any shame for misleading voters, Santos dodged the question.
“I can say the same thing about the Democrats and the party. Look at Joe Biden. Biden's been lying to the American people for 40 years,” he said without offering specifics.