During his campaign, Congressman George Santos was believed to be “the full embodiment of the American dream.” His narrative of being an openly gay child of Brazilian immigrants who rose to the upper echelons of Wall Street before entering the world of politics and the descendent of Holocaust survivors, quickly unraveled before he was sworn into office last year. Since then, his colleagues and constituents have called for his expulsion from Congress, with many asking why Santos would fabricate such an intricate biography.
Fresh off an unsuccessful House vote that sought to expel him from the chamber, the embattled congressman sounded far less optimistic about his future during an interview with CNN’s Manu Raju on Oct. 5. Santos explained his various fabrications, falsities, and deceptions, notable because he faces a 23-count federal indictment that aims to convict him for all of those.
Santos admitted it was a combination of “insecurity” and “stupidity” that compelled him to misconstrue nearly every facet of his life during his run for office. He provided excuses for most of what he’s been accused of, saying it was his treasurer’s job to handle his finances; he will prove his grandparents fled the Holocaust; and that he actually did provide a $500,000 loan to his campaign despite having less than $10,000 in his bank account.
“I lost privacy, I lost the ability to just have a normal life,” Santos said while describing his past year to CNN. “Not having the ability to just take my husband, and let’s go for a walk in the park without the fear of having some psycho try to, I don’t know, hurt me or him.”
Santos is also accused of fraudulently applying for unemployment benefits in an application for a pandemic-related unemployment insurance program. Prosecutors allege he received $24,744 in benefits. When asked about those charges, Santos said that he is “not admitting anything” and that he did what he thought he “was qualified for.”
“There’s people out there who have gone through this process of overtaking a check or two or whatever the case is and then just having to pay it back,” Santos said. “Nobody gets criminally indicted. That’s crazy,”
Santos also told CNN he did not rule out a potential plea deal, but said that as of right now, a deal is “not on the table,”
“I’m not exploring any of that right now,” Santos said. “Those conversations are yet to be had. Right now, I’m pretty focused on my defense.”
When asked about the upcoming primaries, he said his falsehoods and pending court case potentially wouldn’t affect his chances to resume his Congressional seat. Santos remains optimistic.
“Elections are tricky, there’s no predetermined outcome,” Santos told CNN. “No one elected me because I said I played volleyball. People elected me because I said I’d fight the swamp, create more jobs, make life more affordable. And my commitment to America.”
Santos told CNN that he’s spent the last 10 months evaluating his DNA, and has been working with a genealogist to prove his claims about his Jewish heritage. He stressed that he’s Catholic and comes from a Jewish family, despite questions about that account and the lack of documentation to prove it.
“That’s something I’m gonna prove before I die,” Santos said. “Unfortunately Ukraine is in the middle of a freaking war and my grandfather comes from Ukraine.”
Earlier this year, Santos alleged Nancy Marks was no longer his campaign treasurer. The replacement, according to Santos, was Thomas Datwyler, a Wisconsin-based consultant.
Derek Ross, Datwyler’s lawyer at the time, said Datwyler wasn’t working for Santos and attributed Santos’ assertion to miscommunication. However, that changed just days ago when Ross sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission essentially saying he was duped, and that he was withdrawing his earlier statement because he couldn’t vouch for its validity. Ross cited new reporting after the Daily Beast ran an extensive story alleging Datwyler apparently did the work for Santos for months but hid the fact.
In an interview with Newsday, Santos alleged he parted ways with the pair and hired a new treasurer “because I just didn’t feel comfortable with the setup anymore.”