“I’ve been a terrible liar.” These are the words that Rep. George Santos (R-NY) uttered, reflecting a vast understatement of the scandals following him since before he took his seat in Congress in January.
After a New York Times report revealed many aspects of his life story were false, exaggerated or unverified, Santos has faced constant revelations of new lies, frauds, racist allusions, sexual assault allegations and more. Yet, appearing on British TV host Piers Morgan’s show to address the scandals, Santos seemed to take some responsibility only to double down on his statements and positions.
Santos sat down for a 40-minute interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored. Throughout the interview, Morgan moved back and forth between expressing sympathy for Santos and grilling him about specific statements. Throughout the interview, Santos vacillated between admitting some of his lies and defending other claims while claiming his intentions were innocent. But Morgan pushed Santos to reveal “all the lies you’ve told” and admit, “I’ve been a terrible liar.” Santos repeated Morgan’s language, saying, “I’ve been a terrible liar,” but then claimed, “this wasn’t about tricking anybody.” Even as Morgan interjected, “Yes, it was; the whole thing was about tricking people,” Santos continued to excuse his actions, claiming that he fabricated parts of his resume to ” get accepted” by the local Republican Party.
George Santos claims he was forced to fabricate his background to gain the acceptance of local GOP party officials: “I’ve been a terrible liar .. I made mistakes of allowing the pressures of what I thought needed to be done in order to – this wasn’t about tricking anybody.” pic.twitter.com/eEUAQTyTK9
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 20, 2023
During the interview, Morgan turned toward one of the more outrageous stories that Santos has told: his repeated claim to be Jewish. Santos downplayed his many past claims of Jewish heritage, dismissing his claims as a “party favor joke” and repeating that he never said he was Jewish but only claimed to be “Jew-ish” based on his background.
Shortly after the interview aired, CNN published a fact-checking article showing that Santos claimed many times to be Jewish.
“He deceived us and misrepresented his heritage,” said a representative of the Republican Jewish Coalition, one of the groups to which Santos made his claims of Jewish heritage.
In one curious moment, Santos said that the media questioning him were looking for “a pound of flesh” from him. The expression comes from the Shakespeare play The Merchant of Venice, which many people have criticized as antisemitic.
The phrase “a pound of flesh” literally comes from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, in which a greedy Jewish moneylender hypocritically complains about antisemitic bigotry but then demands a literal pound of flesh be cut out of a Christian who defaulted on a loan.
— Alexander (@purplechrain) February 21, 2023
CNN’s fact-checking demonstrated that Santos told “new lies in [the] interview about his old lies.” For example, Santos again claimed that he attended the prestigious Horace Mann School and may have been enrolled under a variation of his full name, George Anthony Devolder Santos. However, Morgan pointed out that the school and CNN had checked for all variations and found no records of him ever attending the school; CNN also notes Santos had changed his story about when he allegedly went to the school and for how long. In addition, Santos admitted that he lied about graduating from Baruch College and gaining a master’s degree in business from New York University when he did not obtain a college degree from any school. Santos called the decision to lie “stupid.” He hedged his admission, however, claiming that he was not the person who distributed his resume, which included a high school for the GMAT business exam that he never took and other lies. Santos also denied that he stole money from a GoFundMe campaign he set up for a homeless veteran’s sick dog, despite the crowdfunding site removing him from the site when it could not verify he had given the money to the dog owner.
Overall, Santos’ interview with Morgan is unlikely to put to rest the idea that the congressman is a habitual liar. Instead, it demonstrated that Santos intends to stick with many of his stories while deflecting blame for his lies. In the most honest part of the interview, Santos explained why he made many outrageous claims about himself during his 2022 congressional campaign. “I ran for the same exact seat in 2020, and I got away with it then,” Santos told Morgan. Unfortunately, this interview shows that Santos thinks he is still getting away with it.