Embattled congressman George Santos is now saying that his mother, whom he previously claimed died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, actually died as a result of “toxic dust” from 9/11 in yet another bizarre explanation.
Speaking to One America News Network, the representative for New York’s third congressional district addressed a 2021 tweet in which he said that “9/11 claimed [his] mother’s life.” The post, and another tweet in which Mr Santos later said that his mother died on 23 December 2016, resurfaced last year along with many inconsistencies in his resume and now-debunked remarks made by him.
In his first sit-down interview since taking office, Mr Santos said he never claimed his mother died on the day of the terror attacks, “but that she had died as a result of [them].”
“The toxic dust that permeated throughout Manhattan and my mother being present, downtown Manhattan — that is was what I was referencing,” Mr Santos told OAN’s Caitlin Sinclair in an interview that was published in full on Saturday. “My mom died in home-hospice in 2016.”
When asked about a review of her immigration history in The New York Times that revealed she was not even in the country when the attack occurred, Mr Santos said that “he didn’t know where that came from,” without offering any further explanation.
George Santos on OAN doesn't deny reports that his mom wasn't in the country on 9/11 pic.twitter.com/FVPk7tG79q
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 3, 2023
“That, to me, remains a mystery, because I was here and I was 13 years old,” he said.
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Santos addressed the plethora of accusations waged by the media that he fabricated a web of lies to pave his way to Congress.
Mr Santos has since admitted that he “embellished” some aspects of his career. Several outlets have since reported that evidence contradicts his education and work history, claims that his grandparents survived the Holocaust and that he personally “lost” four of his employees in the tragedy at Pulse nightclub in 2016.
But Mr Santos deemed some of those reports as “false,” saying he was tired of being “spoken down” by the media.
“People like me aren’t supposed to do big things in life, and when they do, it disrupts the system. A lot of people want to create this narrative that I faked my way to congress, which is absolutely, categorically false,” Mr Santos said in the interview.
When confronted with genealogists’ remarks that there seems to be no evidence supporting his alleged Jewish ancestry, he said he had been referencing what he was told by his grandparents, who are now deceased.
In a previous interview with Fox News, Mr Santos insisted that he had not lied, and in fact only referred to himself as “Jew-ish.” Mr Santos told Ms Sinclair in the past people “would laugh” at the joke.
The congressman has ignored bipartisan calls for him to step down, but announced earlier this week that he will voluntarily step down from two House committees he recently joined after a meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
A larger federal investigation is also probing a $700,000 loan Mr Santos made to his campaign, according to The New York Times.
“I own a business, my business generates revenues through legitimate practices,” he told OAN. “I disperse my dividends to myself and I used my own funds that I obtained by working to fund my campaign.”
Mr Santos first claimed that the money came from “personal funds,” before making an amendment, according to Spectrum News. He claimed in the OAN interview that his legal team was investigating certain “unauthorized changes” made within the campaign.
“We’re looking into it because we have had some activities on the campaign side that was unauthorized by the campaign and that is now being investigated by my new campaign team,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t go into details pending an internal review.
The FEC is also investigating more than a dozen questionable donations and irregular behaviour by the campaign, including donations from prolific Donald Trump donor Cheng Gao. The commission claims it appears that Mr Gao’s donations — of $11,200 — exceeded the legal limit for campaign donations, CNBC reported.
In the clip, the reporter (Derek Myers) is informed that his potential position with the Santos office will not be moving forward following a review of his background, and in particular, a legal case that arose from the course of his reporting.
The audio was reportedly recorded in the congressional office of Mr Santos without the congressman or his staff’s permission.
“I’ve obviously f***ed up and lied to him, like I lied to everyone else,” Mr Santos says in the clip, while referring to his chief of staff Charley Lovett.
Mr Santos was asked by Ms Sinclair in his most recent interview whether he was truly sorry for the unending spiral that his constituents have been inadvertently thrown into.
“I don’t know what looking sorry looks like to you , Caitlin … I’ve made my sincere apology multiple times,” he said.