In a recent interview, Rep. George Santos, R-New York, admitted to being “a terrible liar” while advancing dubious claims about his mother being in the Twin Towers on 9/11 and his own involvement in the attacks “Jew-ish” ancestry.
Piers Morgan, the host, questioned Santos about how he believed he could get away with lying about many things on his resume, such as his graduation from a college he never attended. Santos claimed he didn’t believe he would ever be discovered , because “I ran in 2020 for the same exact seat for Congress, and I got away with it then.”
The 40-minute conversation appeared on YouTube on Monday. Since a New York Times investigation last year revealed that much of Santos’ background appeared to have been manufactured, including claims that he owned numerous properties, had previously worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and had attended and graduated from Baruch College, questions about Santos’ biography have been rife.
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Santos told Morgan, “I have been a terrible liar.” But, he added, “this wasn’t about tricking people. This was about getting accepted by the party here locally.” He later sought to blame vague issues in local politics, saying: “This stems more deeper into the political apparatus and the political culture of New York state. And that would take a lot more time than this program to go over to explain.”
The Times article also raised concerns about how he could donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to his congressional campaign, and subsequent reporting has raised more concerns about his claims of Jewish ancestry and the connection between his mother’s passing and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Santos told Morgan that he never claimed to be Jewish and that he claimed to be “Jew-ish” as “a party favor.”
“That was always a joke. Everybody used to laugh it up. I’d said it to a room with 1,000 people in November. People were hysterically laughing. It was funny to them. They loved it,” he said, referring to a speech he delivered to the Republican Jewish Coalition. In his remarks, which were broadcast on C-SPAN, Santos said his election meant that “now there will be three” Jewish Republican members of Congress, a comment greeted with applause, not laughs.
“I don’t think Jewish people find it funny,” Morgan said. Santos also referenced Judaism in his 2022 congressional campaign, including distributing a position paper in which he claimed to be “a proud American Jew.” The allegations that Santos is of Jewish descent and that his grandparents fled genealogy records refuted the Holocaust, but Santos argued that the records are inaccurate.
“This is the one that I’ll battle to my grave, to the point that I’ve already ordered those DNA test kits, and I’ve gotten four of them so far, and I’m just waiting for their returns,” he said. As for his claim that his mother, who died in 2016, was present in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks, Santos said, “That’s true.”
Morgan noted that immigration records show she wasn’t even in the country during the attack and that there’s no record of her having worked in the buildings. “She wasn’t one to mislead me,” Santos said. “I stay convinced that’s the truth.” Asked about his more recent claim to a Brazilian TV network that he was the victim of an assassination attempt, Santos said: “It wasn’t an assassination attempt. It was a death threat. This is poorly translated Portuguese-to-English language.”
He was also asked about a homeless veteran who said Santos raised money with a GoFundMe campaign for his dog to have an operation, only to disappear with the cash. Santos denied he was responsible, saying he didn’t manage many of his GoFundMe pages.
“I’m not denying if there’s a GoFundMe page and if they’re going to present me with one, I’m not going to deny that, but I’ve never met him. I’ve never took on this case, and I never took the money from his dog,” he said.
The FBI is looking into the alleged GoFundMe plan, along with Santos’ campaign money. The district attorney’s office in Nassau County is also looking into Santos and the New York attorney general’s office has said it’s “looking into a number of issues” tied to him.
Santos told Morgan that lying about having had a college education was “one of my biggest regrets in life.” Asked whether he thought he wouldn’t get caught, he responded: “If you’re going to make up a lie, are you thinking at all? I just think it was a stupid decision on my part, very stupid decision that I regret every day.”