Brooklyn Congressman and incoming Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries slammed embattled George Santos as a “complete and utter fraud” Wednesday after the bombshell report alleging that the Republican Congress Member-elect fabricated parts of his résumé to voters.
Outside of a statement from his campaign attorney besmirching the report, Santos — who’s due to take office on Jan. 3 as the 3rd District representative for northeast Queens and northern Nassau County — has been largely silent about the New York Times article published Monday which indicated that he lied to voters about his education, career and even founding of a nonprofit charity.
Jeffries, who will succeed outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the top Democrat in the House, said that Santos “appears to be a complete and utter fraud, his whole life story made up.” The Brooklyn lawmaker said Santos’ constituents deserve to know the truth about his background, but that the legislator-to-be has been completely mum.
“Right now, George Santos appears to be in the Witness Protection Program. No one can find him,” Jeffries said during a Dec. 21 briefing with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “He’s hiding from legitimate questions that his constituents are asking about his education, about his so-called charity, about his work experience, about his criminal entanglement in Brazil, about every aspect, it appears, of his life.”
Politically, Jeffries accused Santos of perpetrating “a fraud in terms of his views on delivering” for his constituents, claiming that his moderate pivot on the campaign trail was for show. Santos was in Washington, DC during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, though he claimed to attend only Trump’s speech, not the Capitol attack itself.
Jeffries noted that since then, “he’s consistently played footsie with white supremacists, election deniers and those who seek to overturn our democracy.”
Jeffries: Santos appears to be a complete and utter fraud. Right now, George Santos appears to be in the witness protection program. No one can find him. pic.twitter.com/QXtaH9mHYK
— Acyn (@Acyn) December 21, 2022
Santos defeated Democratic candidate Robert Zimmerman in the November general election for the right to succeed outgoing Democrat Tom Suozzi. The Republican victories in House races on Long Island helped the party retake the House majority, though it is a narrow four-seat edge over Democrats.
The party’s leader in the House, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, is in a battle with far-right members of his own party to win the 218 votes necessary to be elected the next speaker. Santos previously tweeted that he would support McCarthy’s bid for the speakership.
Jeffries said it’s up to McCarthy as to whether Santos is worthy of being seated when the new Congress takes office on Jan. 3. So far, McCarthy has yet to publicly comment on the Santos situation.
“We’ll see what happens on Jan. 3,” Jeffries said. “It’s an open question to me as to whether this is the type of individual that the incoming Republican majority should welcome to Congress. That’s a question of Kevin McCarthy at this point in time.”
District 10 Congress Member-elect Dan Goldman, who is a former federal prosecutor, released a statement Tuesday noting that Santos could be on the hook for at least two federal crimes: “conspiracy to defraud the United States by knowingly and intentionally interfering with a federal election through dissemination of misinformation” and “filing false statements to the Federal Election Commission.” Goldman went on to call on the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the FBI to launch an investigation into the findings in the Times’ report.
But in an interview with amNewYork Metro, Goldman said the bigger question is something the incoming House Republican majority must consider: “Is George Santos an outlier in the Republican Party? Or is he at the core of what the Republican Party stands for?”
“And the House Republicans have a choice to make: whether they’re going to embrace someone who by all accounts is an outright fraud, or are they going to rebuke Him and repudiate him for lying to the voters of his district in order to get elected?”