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His Colleagues Are Outraged That He's Been Caught Lying-- But That's Not Why Santos Is Going To Jail

Last month, former Republican Robert Garcia introduced a resolution to expel George Santos from Congress. Garcia, is very much like Santos in that he’s Hispanic, openly gay, a freshman, a recipient of a great deal of shady Sam Bankman-Fried money, and an immigrant from Latin America (although Santos falsely claims he was born in Queens). Garcia was also the California youth coordinator for the 2000 George W. Bush campaign and the founder of the Long Beach Young Republicans in 2005, probably more of an actual Republican than Santos ever was..

Garcia's original co-sponsors were 4 gay Democrats— Becca Balint (D-VT), Eric Sorensen (D-IL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ritchie Torres (D-NY)— plus Dan Goldman (D-NY) and Ted Lieu (D-CA). Garcia said he would find some Republican co-sponsors. And it looks like he did.

On Tuesday New York Republican freshmen Marc Molinaro and Anthony D’Esposito (whose Long Island district borders Santos’) said they have moved beyond calling for him to resign and now say he needs to be expelled. Molinaro told Bloomberg’s Zach Cohen that Santos’ “dishonesty is so extensive, and with so many ongoing investigations, he has eroded his ability to serve. That he doesn’t see this or seemingly understand or care about the damage he’s doing to the institution, his constituents and himself— is so troubling there’s nothing less that should happen. His dishonesty is fundamentally destructive.”

Another New York freshman, Nick LaLota, whose district also borders on Santos’, tweeted this on Monday but hasn’t signed on as a co-sponsor yet.

Cohen reported that LaLota “pointed out only about two dozen Democrats have joined the chamber’s pending expulsion measure, offered by Garcia… A successful removal requires support from two-thirds of House members under the Constitution. ‘I think they know that Santos is their gift that keeps on giving, and that’s why they want this to be a slow bleed to us,’ LaLota said.” The only thing standing between explosion for Santos and the snow bleed is Kevin McCarthy, who could call for a vote and get Santos kicked out in a week.

Santos attacked D’Esposito, a former cop, in a now-deleted tweet, reminding voters that he “lost his NYPD issued GUN while he was DJing at a party” and assaulted a 72-year-old woman. “You sir are the example of a bad cop who give cops a bad name,” he wrote. Nick LaLota responded by telling Politico that “Democrats cheer as Santos makes floors speeches, goes on TV and attacks Republicans in swing districts. It’s time to amputate the diseased Republican in NY-03 before he infects the rest of the NY Republican body.” Syracuse Congressman Brandon Williams also came to D’Esposito’s defense in 3 rushed, angry tweets last night:

On Monday, the DCCC began an aggressive billboard campaign targeting 5 Republican freshmen in New York swing districts who took donations from Santos: Nick LaLota, Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro and Brandon Williams. In Molinaro's and D'Esposito's districts, the billboards ask why they took campaign cash from “a fraudster”nand in the other 3 districts the billboards ask whether the members will return the campaign donations.

Meanwhile, though, D’Esposito also has his own bill circulating. This one, clearly aimed at Santos, “would both prohibit members of the House found guilty of an offense ‘involving financial or campaign finance fraud from receiving compensation for biographies, media appearances or expressive or creative works.’ The bill, titled the ‘No Fortune for Fraud Act,’ would create a law prohibiting House lawmakers convicted of such offenses from profiting off their fabrications, while the resolution, titled the ‘No Fame for Fraud Resolution,’ would amend House rules to make such a regulation for those who are indicted.” Molinaro and LaLota have signed on as original co-sponsors.

Olivia Beavers reported that “The idea that once Santos leaves office, he could profit off of his story with a book or movie contract has privately percolated among— and annoyed— House Republicans.”

Today, the House Ethics Committee finally announced officially that they have launched an investigation into Santos' past business practices, campaign finance expenditures and an allegation of sexual misconduct. The vote to proceed by establishing a Santos investigative subcommittee was unanimous. The 4 members of the subcommittee are David Joyce (R-OH), chair, Susan Wild (D-PA), John Rutherford (R-FL) and Glenn Ivey (D-MD). Santos tweeted that he's fully cooperating. He's also being investigated by the NY State Attorney General, the Nassau County district attorney, the Queens County district attorney, the FEC, the SEC and the FBI. McCarthy is all that has stood between expulsion and this slow drip-drip-drip of revelations and investigations.

This afternoon, New York Magazine published George Santos, MAGA It Girl by Shawn McCreesh. “To you,” he wrote, “Santos might be one of the most noxious, if also plainly ridiculous, figures in American public life right now. But last Friday night at the Beach Cafe, a pub on East 70th street beloved by right-wingers, he’s the It Girl. His wrists are bedizened with bling from Hermès and Cartier, and fawning fans line up for selfies. It’s the 30th birthday party for Breitbart editor Emma-Jo Morris. Santos is holding court at a round table in the corner with a woman in a mink and a reporter for City & State. New York Post columnists Miranda Devine and Kelly Jane Torrance, and their colleague on the Sunday paper, Jon Levine, are by the bar. Things are, on the whole, going pretty well for Santos. Like Anna Delvey, he’s brazened his way through the public shame of his own behavio— even as more and more of it keeps surfacing— and is now enjoying the notoriety on the other side. The right has decided to embrace him as, if nothing else, the ultimate troll of the left: Elise Stefanik and Kevin McCarthy have wrapped their arms around him, and though he hasn’t announced it yet, some in Santos’ orbit tell me they fully expect him to run for reelection. He’s now having fun with it. And the people here clearly do not judge him. One compared him to O.J. Simpson right after his acquittal. Sometimes you’re just famous for being infamous, and that is enough.”

Sitting beside Santos, smirking, is his bald and bearded 31-year-old “director of operations.” His name is Vish Burra. He’s a former drug dealer from Staten Island who, while he worked for Steve Bannon, was the guy you went through if you wanted to check out the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. (He once hosted a viewing party of the laptop’s contents.) He also did crisis comms for Matt Gaetz, and, along with Santos, was part of a mini-MAGA cabal that took over the New York Young Republican Club. The club is run by Burra and Santos’ buddy, Gavin Wax. He couldn’t make it to the Beach Cafe for the party Friday because he was off in Hungary, meeting with members of the country’s semi-fascist government.
…Santos won’t talk to me, but Burra, a self-described “clout diablo,” says he will. He’s got a plan to turn Santos into the future of the MAGA wing of the party, and he’ll tell me all about it— so long as I meet him on his home turf [his parents’ house on Staten Island].
…He takes me inside his family’s two-story, single-family home and shows me a photograph of the time Gaetz met his folks. “My mother cooked a full Indian meal for him,” says Burra. “He loved it.” There are red MAGA hats signed by Trump on display, as well as a shrine to various Hindu gods. Vish says his full name— Viswanag— translates to “King Cobra of the Universe.” “King Cobra has the most wisdom among all deities,” notes Burra’s father, an IT manager.
After Burra worked for Gaetz, he did communications clean-up duty for Carl Paladino, the Republican from western New York who praised Adolf Hitler. (Paladino had said: “I guess that’s the kind of leader we need today. We need somebody inspirational. We need somebody that is a doer.”) “I controlled the message,” says Burra. “I’m just very good at dealing with people and getting them to feel what I wanted them to say is actually what they wanted to say the whole time.” He adds that, “Look, I understood what he was trying to say. You’re looking for leaders who actually make you feel something.” But … it’s Hitler. “I would not have used Hitler,” he allows. “I would not. That’s Carl. He just says some things sometimes. Look, Buffalo’s very different from the cold world of New York and D.C. He doesn’t understand the way these people in these circles are going to take his comments.”
After Paladino, it was onto Santos. “George has been a good friend of mine and good friend of the club for a long time already,” says Burra. “He’s just a nice guy, very funny, really smart, easily likable. His check always cleared with the club, so we’re just like, He’s fine. Then he wins the seat and we’re like, Oh, we were with him since day one. Days later, the article drops. I’m like, Huh. This is all interesting.” Burra is such a scandal addict that he only signed up to work for Santos after he was exposed as a fraud. (His official start date was January 12.)
…Santos, who seemed to have trouble paying his rent, suddenly had a great deal of mysterious money on hand, which he spent in all manner of possibly sketchy ways. The local media didn’t do much digging until after the election when the Times pulled one string and it turned out the congressman had no clothes. Burra chalks it up to Democrats being sore losers. “Essentially, the Democrats got caught with their pants down, and now they’re trying to cover that up with all of this firestorm.”
…[A] strategy is developing for Santos to not only survive this, but, just possibly, emerge a hero, or perhaps mascot, of the MAGA movement, all his troubles brought on by the hypocritical smug Democrat haters and their elite media lapdogs. Burra says now he’s guiding Santos on the way forward: “How do you play the McCarthy relationship? How do you play the Gaetz relationship? How do you get legislation and votes and exposure as a real legislator right now?” He adds that “the ultimate question now is, ‘Who is George Santos?’ The legislation is going to answer that.” Attaching Santos to any ultraconservative bill will guarantee exposure: He just co-sponsored a resolution to make the AR-15 the national gun. “The media is going nuts about that,” says Burra happily. “All he did was sponsor it. If you listen to the media, you would’ve thought that he’s the one who proposed it. His superpower now uncovered is the coveted co-sponsorship.”
This seems an idiotic plan if he cares about getting his boss reelected, since Santos’ district, which encompasses parts of Queens, isn’t all that red. “That’s not necessarily true,” says Burra. “There’s a stark contrast in the district between the North Shore and Massapequa, and the southern parts with blue-collar working-class types. Those folks love the AR-15 sign-on.” But according to a recent poll, 78 percent of Santos’s constituents want him out. “Polls are nonsense,” says Burra with a wave of his hand.
What Santos and Burra represent, and what their little posse has done with the Young Republicans group, has horrified decent-minded New York Republicans and the moderates they need to win races. I read him the lead of Peggy Noonan’s recent column in which she calls Santos “a daily insult to the American people and a taunt.”
“Who cares?” he laughs. “They don’t care about us. They’re not listening to us.” What about that moment in the House chamber during the State of the Union when Mitt Romney collided with Santos and told him, “You don’t belong here”?
“I loved it,” says Burra. And the fact is, he’s not the only one. The Trumpian right so loathes the Establishment that it might just be worth it to them to keep toads like Burra and Santos squatting in the halls of power.
The day before I met up with Burra in Staten Island, Ron DeSantis was there, trying to get people like Burra’s neighbors, Celeste and the garbageman, onboard. Burra thinks it’s futile because, he says, DeSantis “is beholden to his fundraisers. All the same rules that apply to normal politicians apply to him.” He adds, “I am not sure if he’s a neocon.” He calls Nikki Haley “Boeing’s top lobbyist who’s running to sell planes to Ukraine” and says he despises Fox News, mostly because it called Arizona for Biden. He’s hoping Trump gets reelected. And sometime in the future, he predicts, “George has got the stuff presidents are made of.”

Yesterday, PolitiFact published a guide to Santos’ lies, beginning with a didsclamer that they’ve “been tracking falsehoods in politics since 2007. But we’ve never seen anyone like U.S. Rep. George Santos.” They began their report with the lies that Santos has admitted were lies:

That he went to Baruch College and graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s in economics and finance. Santos made this claim on a résumé and on an "about" page on his campaign website.

Santos later told the New York Post, "I didn't graduate from any institution of higher learning. I'm embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my résumé." This would also seem to be a backhanded acknowledgement that he never played college volleyball (or defeated Harvard) while there, either. Santos told British interviewer Piers Morgan that lying about his educational attainment was a "very stupid decision."

He told Newsmax that he would not have gotten the Nassau County Republican Party’s nomination if the party had known he lacked a college degree.

That he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from New York University in 2013, as he said on the same resume and campaign website.

Santos’ acknowledgement to the New York Post about not graduating from any higher learning institution also covers this claim.

That he and his family owned 13 properties, which he claimed in a 2021 Twitter thread.

An extensive search of property records by the New York Times found no real estate holdings for Santos in the U.S. Santos later admitted to the New York Post that "George Santos does not own any properties.”

They followed that with the lies Santos claims are exaggerations:

That he worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Santos’ campaign website said that after graduating, he "began working at Citigroup as an associate." His tenure ran from 2011 to 2014, according to his résumé. The résumé also said Santos was a "project manager" at Goldman Sachs for about eight months in 2017. However, both companies told the Times and other outlets that Santos was never their employee.

Santos has argued that he did work with Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, such as conference organizing, marketing and fundraising, but that he was not on staff at either company. He characterized his distinction between working with the companies and working for them as an "embellishment" in an interview with former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who was guest hosting on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.

Santos told Gabbard, who is now an independent, "I can sit down and explain to you what you can do in private equity, in capital intro, via servicing limited partners and general partners, and we can have this discussion that's going to go way above the American people's head. But that's not what I campaigned on."

He also told Newsmax that he "never lied" about his employment, saying he had "direct contracts for those firms."

That he had never been a drag performer in Brazil. After questions were raised about other aspects of his biography, media reports surfaced that Santos had competed as a drag queen in Brazilian beauty pageants 15 years earlier, and photographs of Santos in his drag persona, Kitara Ravache, were published.

Santos initially tweeted, "The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag Queen or ‘performed’ as a drag Queen is categorically false. The media continues to make outrageous claims about my life while I am working to deliver results. I will not be distracted nor fazed by this."

Later, Santos offered a more nuanced explanation. He told Morgan he was in drag for "one day" rather than a "career performer."

Santos argues that there was a distinction between his limited participation in drag and being a "drag queen." While walking through LaGuardia Airport, he told reporters trailing him, "No, I was not a drag queen in Brazil, guys. I was young and I had fun at a festival. Sue me for having a life."

That he never said he’s part Jewish. In the interview with Morgan, Santos said, "I never claimed to be Jewish." We rated this Pants on Fire!

On a half-dozen occasions, Santos unambiguously referred to himself as Jewish. They included two interviews in which he called himself "a Latino Jew," interviews in which he variously called himself "half Jewish," "halachically Jewish," and "one of two Jewish Republican freshmen," and a position paper in which he called himself a "proud American Jew."

Santos told Morgan, "I’d always say I was raised Catholic but I come from a Jewish family, so that makes me ‘Jew-ish,’ It’s always been a party favor. Everybody’s always laughed."

This echoed the explanation he gave to the New York Post and City & State New York.

Then there are the lies he claims he didn’t lie about:

That he attended Horace Mann prep school, although he acknowledged not graduating because of financial difficulties. He made this claim on his campaign website, but school officials told media outlets that records show nothing about Santos ever attending.

Santos insisted to Morgan that he went there, at least briefly. "I was there for six months of ninth grade," he said.

That he has ancestors who fled the Holocaust. Santos told a conservative podcaster that his "grandparents survived the Holocaust." He also tweeted that he's "the grandson of Holocaust refugees" and said in a 2021 campaign video that his "grandparents survived the Holocaust." His campaign website said that his mother "was born in Brazil to Belgian immigrants that fled the devastation of World War II Europe."

However, the Forward reported that Santos’ family doesn’t "appear in Brazilian immigration cards in the 1930s or 1940s, or in the databases of Yad Vashem or the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which list European Jewish refugees." Genealogist Megan Smolenyak told CNN that "there’s no sign of Jewish and/or Ukrainian heritage and no indication of name changes along the way."

Santos has not conceded this point. "This is the one that I will battle to my grave," Santos told Morgan. He said he is working to get DNA results that will prove his case, saying that it was common at the time for documents to have been fabricated to help people escape persecution.

That his mother, Fatima Devolder, was in the World Trade Center’s twin towers on 9/11 and eventually died from injuries sustained that day. Santos tweeted that 9/11 "claimed my mother’s life," and he said on a version of his campaign website that she was in her office in the South Tower on 9/11 but survived, passing away "a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer."

Research by NBC News found only one employer of his mother in public records, from 1994 in Queens. She also worked as a nurse in Brazil, the Times reported.

Further, documents have emerged showing that Santos’ mother was in Brazil at the time of the attacks, and when she applied for a visa in 2003 to enter the U.S., she wrote that she had not been in the U.S. since 1999.

Pressed by Morgan about these discrepancies, Santos doubled down, saying it is "true" that his mother worked in the twin towers. He said he doesn’t know why no record can be found of her employment there. "I stay convinced that that’s the truth," he said.

That he had employees who died in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Santos told WNYC radio that he "lost four employees" in the Pulse shooting. But the Times found that none of the 49 victims worked at any company he’s been affiliated with.

Santos stood by this claim to Morgan, saying that the media investigations so far haven’t contacted the right company. "I’m reporting based on what was reported to us that morning," Santos said.

That he ran an animal charity, organized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, called Friends of Pets United that rescued 2,500 dogs and cats from 2013 to 2018. Santos made this claim in his campaign biography.

The New York Times and others have found no record of a registered charity by this name in federal or state records. The Times did find one fundraiser in 2017, but the organizer of the group that was supposed to be receiving the funds told the newspaper that she never received any money from Santos’ group.

Santos told Morgan that he can "attest" that The Times’ description of the fundraiser is "not true." He said he was one of seven founders of the group and was responsible for picking up animals to be rescued, not for the group’s administration.

That he cheated a veteran with a sick dog. Richard Osthoff, a disabled U.S. Navy veteran, said in media interviews that Santos helped raise $3,000 for urgent surgery for his service dog, Sapphire, in 2016, but that never received the money and the dog died.

In response, Santos tweeted, "The reports that I would let a dog die is shocking & insane. My work in animal advocacy was the labor of love & hard work. Over the past 24hr I have received pictures of dogs I helped rescue throughout the years along with supportive messages."

In his interview with Morgan, Santos said that he’s set up many GoFundMe pages for pets over the years and that it’s conceivable that someone else managed the page for Osthoff’s dog using his account. However, Santos said he never had any direct involvement in the effort for Osthoff’s dog.

"I’ve never met this man," Santos told Morgan. "I’ve made abundantly clear: I feel for him, I feel for his story. … When I read this, it hit me like a bag of bricks." Santos said he "never took on this case and I never took the money from his dog."

That he has had a brain tumor. In March 2020, Santos said on the Empire State Conservatives Podcast that he "battled a brain tumor a couple of years ago."

Santos repeated this in the Newsmax interview, saying he had an "acute tumor a couple years ago and survived it."

That he was involved in a variety of movies and plays. A Wikipedia page last edited on April 29, 2011, and subsequently taken down, said that Anthony Devolder— one of the names Santos previously used— had acted in the Disney Channel shows "Hannah Montana" and "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody."

Even though other details on the page matched Santos’ known biography, and even though he was not a public figure in 2011, Santos has denied having made the page. "I have no ownership of that page," Santos told Morgan. "I never pretended to be an actor."

That he said he was targeted in an "assassination attempt." After his election, Santos appeared on a Brazilian podcast and told the hosts in Portuguese that "we have already suffered an attempt on my life, an assassination attempt," according to an MSNBC translation.

However, Santos disputed this translation in the interview with Morgan. He told Morgan that he had received "several death threats … throughout the process of running for office." Saying he called it an "assassination attempt" in the podcast is a "poor translation" from the Portuguese, Santos said.

Luiz Romero, a PolitiFact contributing writer who is fluent in Portuguese, said that a literal translation of Santos’ remarks would be, "I’ve already suffered vandalism. We’ve already suffered a ‘life attack,’ an ‘assassination attack,’ a threatening letter, having to have police, a police escort standing in front of our house." Romero said he thinks it is fair to hear what Santos is saying and understand that he was the target of an assassination attempt, both from context and considering how those words are used in Portuguese.

That he’s not a criminal. Santos told the New York Post, "I am not a criminal here— not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world."

Santos has not been convicted of any crime. However, the New York Times unearthed court records showing that Santos was charged with stealing a checkbook belonging to a man his mother was caring for and writing fraudulent checks worth $700. The case lapsed when he left the country, but after his election to Congress came to light, Brazilian prosecutors said they intended to resurrect the fraud charges.

Also, in 2017, Politico reported that a checking account in Santos’ name wrote nine canceled checks to dog breeders, writing in the memo section: "puppy" and "puppies." This earned him the charge in Pennsylvania of theft by deception. Santos said his checkbook had been stolen and, with a friend’s help, the charge was expunged.

The next category were the lies that Santos hasn’t addressed yet:

That he’s "biracial … Caucasian and Black." In a Twitter conversation in 2020, Santos said he was biracial, specifically "Caucasian and Black." He does not appear to have elaborated on this.

That he trashed Goldman Sachs at a conference run by Anthony Scaramucci. SALT is a "global thought leadership and networking forum encompassing finance, technology and geopolitics" founded by Scaramucci, who briefly served in President Donald Trump’s White House.

Santos told a podcast in 2022, "Have you ever heard of a Goldman Sachs employee take the stage at the largest private equity conference in the world— SALT, run by Anthony Scaramucci— and berate their employer? Well, I did that." Santos said he was serving on a panel about renewable energy and global warming.

Scaramucci told CNN that Santos wasn’t on any panel at the conference, and didn’t even attend. Santos does not appear to have addressed this claim any further.

That he had two knee replacements. Santos said in a radio interview that as a result of his volleyball career (which may not have existed at all, since he did not attend college), he had "sacrificed both…knees" and "got very nice knee replacements… That’s how serious I took the game."

Santos does not appear to have addressed this claim since.

They ended with the category that’s going to put Santos in prison. They called it “Where the evidence is unclear” and it’s just one item: “Where the wealth he spent to get elected came from. One of his campaign websites said, ‘George currently works at his family's firm, Devolder Organizations, as a Managing Member where he oversees the asset allocations of $80 million assets under management.’ The New York Times reported that Santos has said he received a $750,000 salary and $1 million in dividends from Devolder. Forms filed with the Federal Election Commission initially said Santos had lent more than $700,000 in personal funds to his 2022 campaign. He then later amended the forms to attribute them to the Devolder Organization, which could be an illegal corporate contribution. (For the record, the official headquarters of the Devolder Organization are at the address of a Fast Mail N More mailbox rental store, Mediaite reported.) In a Feb. 16 interview with WNYW-TV New York, Santos said it was "100% legitimately my money, originated from my business practices. Campaign finance issues could be scrutinized in the investigations Santos is reportedly facing, including by the Nassau County, New York, district attorney, the New York state attorney general, the federal Eastern District of New York, and the Federal Election Commission.’ I have no doubt in my mind that my funds were obtained through legitimate reasons,’ Santos told Newsmax.”

I wish the Justice Department would speed this up and charge this guy already. McCarthy should be forced to watch the perp walk.

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