A Republican elected to Congress in New York quickly learns that the conservative movement still has a limit to dishonesty.
The House of Representatives’ two-year terms and relatively large membership make the chamber a place that attracts some of Washington’s most controversial figures. But few have managed to spark as much uproar even before being sworn in as George Santos, the Republican who is expected to elect part of Long Island in the coming days.
Mr. Santos, since winning his election easily despite clashing with a Democratic incumbent, has faced one of the biggest media bashings in modern memory. Over the past few weeks, reporters have been digging into his life and background, uncovering lies about everything from his work history to his religion and family heritage.
The unprecedented wave of lies came to a head on Tuesday night when Mr Santos appeared on Fox News, clearly hoping for a friendly reception and was instead grilled by ex-Congressman Tulsi Gabbard who quickly made big numbers on Twitter.
“If I was one of those [voters] in New York’s third district right now, now that the election is over, and I’m finding out about all those lies you’ve been telling, not just a little lie or a little embellishment – they’re blatant lies – my question is, n aren’t you ashamed? said Mrs. Gabbard with dripping contempt.
Mr Santos has sought to cling to his rapidly vanishing political future with both hands and has vowed to continue to represent New York’s Third District despite the scandal, but now faces waning right-wing support and an onslaught full Democrats in the lower house. .
So what exactly did he lie about, and where do we go from there?
The lies, the fabrications and the ’embellishments’
Who is George Santos? In the end, we don’t really know. What we do know is who he is not: He is not a Baruch College graduate or New York University alumnus, as he has previously claimed. Nor is he a former employee of Citigroup or Goldman Sachs, two companies that have denied his past claims that he worked for them.
He is also not the grandson of Holocaust survivors, as he has already claimed in at least two interviews in 2022. He is not Jewish at all, in fact – Mr Santos now uses seriously the “I didn’t say I was Jewish, I said I was Jewish” explanation was first thrown around as a joke, though she claimed both in a public position paper and in public and private comments to be a “Latino Jew”.
According to Mr. Santos, he never went to college and his actual business history involves a sudden increase of millions of dollars in wealth that occurred in the last year – an increase he has yet to explained. The fact that the business he founded and led to success actually closed this year after failing to file annual paperwork with Florida state authorities adds to the confusing and frustrating nature of his wealth.
What’s left is a man with a largely obscure history who seems to have suddenly reached millions of dollars, with little to no explanation.
Who talks about this?
The short answer: pretty much everyone, minus the people who really matter.
The Democrats’ response comes as no surprise. Hakeem Jeffries, who is expected to be his party’s next Minority Leader, used his name as a punchline during his first press conference as the Democratic caucus leader last week. Others were more specific in their condemnations, including members like Ritchie Torres and Joaquin Castro, and called for his removal from the House.
A handful of Republicans also commented, including Nick LaLota, another Republican member of the House’s new freshman class, who said Mr. Santos should be investigated by the ethics committee. from the room. Marjorie Taylor Greene, celebrated on the far right for her support of various conspiracy theories, pleaded with voters to give her “a chance” in a weak defense of her actions.
The GOP House leadership, meanwhile, has remained completely silent. Kevin McCarthy, who is currently battling a far-right bid to prevent him from becoming president, has yet to say what should happen to the embattled Mr Santos; same with Steve Scalise, the new House Majority Leader.
What has The response from conservative media has been surprising, potentially becoming the biggest hurdle between Mr. Santos and two years in the House of Representatives.
Her agonizing embroilment at the hands of Ms Gabbard followed a brutal interview with one of her home country’s biggest news outlets: The New York Posta conservative newspaper who called him a liar after he tried to explain himself to their reporters following his first exposure by more liberal media.
So where do we go from here?
The answer to that question may very well hinge on whether Mr. Santos can make it to January 3, when the new House class takes office. If he takes his place in the lower house, the elected member of Congress from New York could very well weather this storm – at least until the voters shoot him again in 2024. Kevin McCarthy or any Republican who ends up By becoming president will be under immense pressure from the right to stop any attempt to punish its own members for alleged wrongdoing, and those conservatives will carry a lot of clout given the single-digit majority the GOP will have in January.
If that happened, he could still be investigated by the House Ethics Committee – but expulsion from the House would be highly unlikely.
However, it is still possible that Mr. Santos will resign before the 3rd. The scandal has evolved rapidly over the past week, and any more damaging revelation, depending on its severity, could trigger a new wave of convictions that proves too difficult. to bear for a new congressman with few or no allies in Washington.
Some of these condemnations carry more weight than others and have more serious political consequences. The best example to date was the response of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a powerful national GOP group that condemned Mr. Santos’ lies about his ancestry and barred him from all future events. There’s also the ongoing onslaught led by the conservative media, a prospect that could easily be a death sentence for a vulnerable freshman Republican.
And then there are the Feds. As scrutiny of his wealth grew on Wednesday, reports said federal and state prosecutors were looking into his finances. These investigations would follow him long after January 3 and could well result in his ousting from Congress in the months to come.
Mr. Santos and a handful of allies remain adamant that he can serve his district for two years in the House and that he will weather this storm. But in the end, it might just be another lie told by an aspiring politician that ended up being more fiction than fact.