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GOP’s Santos acknowledges some of his lies, but questions remain

If George Santos thinks his grudging acknowledgements of some of his lies will end his scandal, the New York Republican will likely be disappointed.


It was about a week ago when The New York Times first broke the news about Rep.-elect George Santos and the apparent fact that he made up a personal biography filled with brazen lies. This wasn’t just an instance of minor embellishments; the incoming Republican congressman appears to have lied about his educational background, his private-sector experience, and even his nonprofit experience.

Though it hardly seemed possible, the story managed to get worse soon after, as evidence emerged that Santos also lied about being Jewish. The incoming congressman also faced awkward questions about his former marriage and the suspicious speed with which he became wealthy.

It took several days, but The Associated Press reported that the Long Island Republican has now acknowledged his deceptions — at least some of them.

Rep.-elect George Santos, R-N.Y., admitted Monday that he lied about his job experience and college education during his successful campaign for a seat in the U.S. House. In an interview with the New York Post, Santos said: “My sins here are embellishing my resume. I’m sorry.”

“I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my résumé,” he added. “I own up to that. ... We do stupid things in life.” Santos went on to tell the New York Post, “I campaigned talking about the people’s concerns, not my résumé.”

Of course, in reality, that’s absurd. The idea that the congressional candidate didn’t campaign on his personal background is at odds with how campaigns work: Santos lied about his biography in the hopes of impressing voters. If he wasn’t running on his résumé, the GOP candidate wouldn’t have felt the need to lie in the first place.

As things stand, we can now drop “allegedly” from several of Santos’ lies. Before getting elected, he said he graduated from Baruch College, but he’s now conceded that he never graduated “from any institution of higher learning.” He also boasted to voters about working at Citigroup and spending some time at Goldman Sachs, and he’s now acknowledged that those claims were also false.

As for his real estate background, the Post’s article added, “Santos also admitted to lying when he claimed that he owned 13 different properties, saying he now resides at his sister’s place in Huntington but is looking to purchase his own place.”

My personal favorite relates to his faith. “I never claimed to be Jewish,” Santos said. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”

First, that’s an old joke, not something people should present as an actual defense. And second, he absolutely claimed to be Jewish, which means the incoming congressman has lied about lying.

By all appearances, Santos spoke to the Post in the hopes of putting this mess behind him. Indeed, he explicitly told the newspaper, “I intend to deliver on the promises I made during the campaign.”

But if the New Yorker thinks some grudging acknowledgements of reality will resolve this mess, he’s likely to be disappointed.

Santos still hasn’t addressed several elements of the larger controversy, including questions surrounding his finances, his marriage, and his fraud allegations in Brazil. What’s more, he’s facing the prospect of ethics and criminal investigations surrounding his con job, and they won’t simply disappear now that he’s conceded that he lied.

Finally, the Post’s article added:

Senior House Republicans were apparently aware of the inaccuracies and embellishments in the rep-elect’s resume, and the topic became a “running joke,” multiple insiders close to House GOP leadership told The Post over the weekend. “As far as questions about George in general, that was always something that was brought up whenever we talked about this race,” said one senior GOP leadership aide. “It was a running joke at a certain point. This is the second time he’s run and these issues we assumed would be worked out by the voters.”

If that’s accurate, it raises a different set of questions for Republican leaders on Capitol Hill: What did top GOP officials know about Santos’ lying and when did they know it?