A lengthy tell-all interview might have given Rep. George Santos an opportunity to come clean with the American people.
In a 40-minute conversation with British broadcaster Piers Morgan that aired on YouTube on Monday, Morgan pressed Santos to admit he was a “terrible liar.”
“I’ve been a terrible liar on those subjects,” Santos said in a one-minute video clip shared on Twitter. “It wasn’t about tricking the people. It was about being accepted by the party.”
However, in the 40-minute interview, Santos only admitted to one outright fabrication: that he didn’t go to Baruch College.
He spent most of the conversation rehashing disproven elements of his biography, including his supposed Jewish heritage, his late mother’s presence during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the supposed nonprofit he ran.
Instead the Republican lawmaker cast himself as a victim, telling Morgan that he wouldn’t have run for office at all if he’d understood the personal costs.
“I just wanted to give back,” he said. “But if I knew that it would come at this cost of sacrificing my safety in many cases, and my privacy, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Santos’ dizzying array of lies on the campaign trail seized the public’s attention since revelations first emerged through a New York Times investigation last December.
The freshman congressmember, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, is now embroiled in multiple federal and local investigations, and has been scorned by voters and colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
During the Monday interview, Santos insisted his mother was in one of the twin towers at the time of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, though he did not say what she was doing there. Immigration documents obtained by genealogists showed that during the 2001 attacks, she said she was in Brazil, trying to get back a stolen green card. But on Monday, Santos insisted the family had been in Queens and that his mother was in one of the towers.
“Did she lie on her visa application?” Morgan asked.
“I don’t know. I was a child when these things were being done,” Santos retorted.
Santos reasserted that he’d attended the elite Horace Mann School in the Bronx for a period of six months when he was in ninth grade. Ed Adler, a spokesperson for the school, said Horace Mann did not have any record of his attendance, which would include students who hadn’t completed a year there.
Santos dodged other questions – insisting, for example, that he hadn’t played a major role in the animal rescue group “Friends of Pets United,” so had no knowledge about whether it was a nonprofit or not. That group made headlines last month when a disabled veteran alleged that Santos scammed him out of money that had been raised for a life-saving operation for a dog.
Federal investigators are now probing the group. The IRS has no record of it being registered as a nonprofit, though Santos claimed he “founded and ran a nonprofit 501(c)(3) called Friends of Pets United (FOPU) from 2013-2018,” according to an archived version of the site on the WayBack machine.
During his Monday interview, Santos said he had no knowledge of its financials and maybe one of the other “seven founders” might know.
Asked about reports that he scammed a homeless disabled veteran out of $3,000 the man needed for his dog’s surgery, Santos insisted; “I’ve never met this man. I feel for him,” categorically denying the account.
“I spoke directly to Mr. Santos and he can deny whatever he wishes,” said Michael Boll, who runs NJ Veterans Network, and helped advocate for the veteran, Richard Ostoff, during the 2016 debacle. Neither Boll or Ostoff met Santos in person, but both men exchanged texts and phone calls with Santos, he said. “George Santos is now known as the world’s biggest liar and that is something that will follow him for life.”