A Brazilian-American elected to the US Congress by the Republican Party faced growing outcry on Tuesday to resign his seat after admitting he had made up much of his resume.
Text: RFI / AFP
George Santos, the Queens-born son of Brazilian immigrants, helped the Republican Party secure a narrow majority in the House of Representatives by winning a New York district seat in November’s midterm elections.
But an investigation by the New York Times called into question key aspects of his education and employment history revealed during the election campaign.
Santos acknowledged Monday in two different interviews that he had fabricated significant parts of his CV: He confessed that he had not graduated from university, nor had he worked at Citigroup Bank and Goldman Sachs Investment Bank, despite claims to the contrary.
However, the Republican politician refused to give up his seat in Congress, which is due to take office on January 3.
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“I’m not a criminal,” Santos told the New York Post, drawing comparisons to the 1973 “I’m not a thief” statement by then-US President Richard Nixon, who ended up resigning the following year.
Santos apologized for “embellishing” his resume, but some of his justifications bordered on the absurd, particularly his defense of his false claim that he was Jewish.
“I am catholic. Because I learned that my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said that I was ‘Jewish,’” he told the Post.
His Democratic rivals have also raised the possibility that Santos lied about his finances, which would be breaking the law.
Several members of President Joe Biden’s party have demanded that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy call a vote to oust Santos if he does not resign.
“His regrettable confession should not distract us from concerns about possible criminality and corruption,” Ritchie Torres, who sits in the House of Representatives for a New York district, tweeted. “The Ethics Committee should investigate how he made his money. Where there is smoke there is fire”.
His Democratic colleague for a California district, Eric Swalwell, accused Santos of “defrauding Long Island voters for his entire resume,” while a Democratic strategist urged McCarthy to “demand” Santos resign.
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“Santos should not occupy a position in the new Congress,” stressed Kurt Bardella.
Santos, who defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in a district that straddles Queens and Long Island, is part of a Republican “wave” in New York that propelled the party to a 222-212 majority in the House in Washington.
Last week he released a statement from his lawyer accusing The Times of “trying to tarnish its good name with these libelous accusations.”
McCarthy was questioned by reporters in Congress about the allegations, but has so far avoided answering.
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