A defiant Congressman-elect George Santos complained Tuesday night that “everybody wants to nitpick” him for lying to voters about his job experience, education and religion, insisting there was room for debate about the extent of his flagrant falsehoods.
Santos, a 34-year-old Republican who was elected Nov. 8 to represent Long Island’s North Shore in the House of Representatives, made the comments on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” after coming clean to The Post a day before about his grand deception.
When guest host Tulsi Gabbard asked Santos if he “had no shame,” the Republican turned the question back on the former Democratic lawmaker.
“Tulsi, I can say the same thing about the Democrats and, and the party,” Santos responded. “Look at Joe Biden. Joe Biden’s been lying to the American people for 40 years. He’s the president of the United States. Democrats over-resoundingly support him. Do they have no shame?”
Santos also tried to downplay his false claims that he worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, claiming his resume fraud was an embellishment, not an outright lie.
“We can debate my resume and how I worked with firms such as Goldman…,” he began.
“Is it debatable?” Gabbard cut him off. “Or is it just false?”
“No, it’s not false at all, it’s debatable,” said Santos — who then argued that explaining how he allegedly did business with Goldman Sachs and Citigroup while employed at private equity firm Link Bridge would go “way over the American people’s head.”
Santos admitted Monday he had not graduated from college or worked at the high-profile Wall Street firms. He also confessed to being Catholic, even though he called himself a “proud American Jew” on the campaign trail.
The disgraced Congressman-elect, who was spotted moving items into his sister’s apartment in Elmhurst earlier Tuesday, also told The Post that he did not own any properties after claiming to have more than a dozen, and acknowledged he had stiffed a Queens landlord for $12,000.
Santos also tried Tuesday to explain his false claims that his mother was Jewish and that his grandparents escaped the Nazis during World War II.
“My heritage is Jewish, I’ve always identified as Jewish. I was raised a practicing Catholic. I think I’ve gone through this,” he told Gabbard.
“Even [though] I’ve not, not been raised a practicing Jew, I’ve always joked with friends and circles — even in the campaign, I’d say ‘Guys, I’m Jew-ish.’ Remember, I was raised Catholic. So look, I understand and everybody wants to nitpick at me.
“I’m gonna reassure this once and for all,” Santos continued. “I’m not a façade, I’m not a persona. I have an extensive career that I worked really hard to achieve, and I’m going to deliver for my experience cause I remain committed to delivering results for the American people.”
When asked by Gabbard what the word “integrity” meant to him, Santos said it was “very important.”
“It means to, to carry yourself in an honorable way. And I made a mistake. And I think humans are flawed and we all make mistakes, Tulsi. Um, I think we can all look at ourselves in the mirror and admit that once we’ve made a mistake.
“I’m having to admit this on national television for the whole country to see and I have the courage to do so because I believe that in order to move past this and move forward and be an effective member of Congress, I have to face my mistakes, and I’m facing them,” he said.
Santos then tried a new tack, saying he lied about the most important aspects of his personal and professional life because he had a tough upbringing.
“The reality is that I remain committed to doing everything I set forth in my campaign,” he said. “I’m not a fraud, I’m not a fake. I didn’t materialize from thin air. I worked damn hard to get where I got my entire life. Life wasn’t easy, it didn’t start off easy. As I’ve said many, many times, I come from abject poverty.”
“Congressman-Elect Santos, we’ve given you a lot of time,” Gabbard said to conclude the interview. “The time that is owed is to the people of New York’s Third [District]. It’s hard to imagine how they possibly could trust your explanations when you’re not really even willing to admit the depth of your deception to them.”