Good evening. It’s Wednesday, January 25 in America, and it’s time for our regularly scheduled check-in regarding the most recently unearthed lies that have come out of Representative George Santos’s mouth. One would think this wouldn’t be a daily task—that, at best, we’d learn about a new lie every few weeks or months—and yet, it is!
For those of you just catching up, we learned on Tuesday that in a single interview in December, Santos told a Brazilian podcast that he (1) had been the target of an assassination attempt, (2) had been mugged in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue, and (3) was so rich that he’d be donating his entire congressional salary. (For good measure, he also boldly, and falsely, claimed that New York City schools put on 300 drag shows a day and that 20,000 New York women had received “on-demand” abortions in their third trimester in 2021.)
Now, most people don’t tell even one of these lies in their lifetime, let alone all three, plus the completely ridiculous stats. But for Santos, who is seemingly going for some kind of world record, it was just an average day at the office. So, what did we learn today? Let’s take a look.
The Roommate From Hell
In an interview with Curbed, pharmacist Yasser Rabello, who lived with Santos for several months between 2013 and 2014 and now resides in Florida, said he was regularly fed a deluge of lies by the now congressman. Per Rabello, said lies included that Santos, who went by Anthony Devolder at the time:
– Was a reporter for a Brazilian outlet
– Was also a male model who worked at Fashion Week
– Had hung out with Victoria’s Secret models
– And was going to be in Vogue magazine
According to Rabello, the tall tales didn’t stop with Santos’s CV; they also also extended to their living situation. As Rabello told Curbed:
The rent was $500, and I paid a security deposit before I saw it. It was only a two-bedroom and one bathroom, but they [Santos, his sister, and his mom, who all lived there] promised to make a partition in the living room that could become my bedroom because the living room was huge. But when I got there, they said they couldn’t do the partition, that they had bought the materials but it was impossible, so they had lost money, blah, blah, blah. But there were no signs at all that they’d attempted to do the work—no marks on the walls from pencils, no dust or anything like that. They ultimately gave me Anthony’s bedroom, and Anthony slept in the living room. There wasn’t even a sheet on the couch; he slept on it with no cover.
Later, Santos apparently moved his boyfriend in—bringing the total number of people in the two-bedroom apartment to five—without telling Rabello. But according to the pharmacist, that was just a preview of the hell that would later ensue:
None of them carried their own keys, which is stupid. I don’t know who does that. So I wake up one day with my phone next to me ringing. They were yelling at me to let them in. They had been ringing the buzzer for the intercom, but it was broken, so I didn’t hear it. I let them in, and [Santos’s mom] starts shouting in Portuguese for me to get out of her apartment. So I stopped staying there. But I had one more month on my lease, so I kept going in day by day to get my stuff.
I arranged with my friend who has a driver’s license to rent a truck so we could get my Ikea dresser. I arranged with Anthony a time to come. He said, “Okay.” I tried to take my dresser, and a fight started. His mother said, “You’re not gonna take my dresser.” I was like, “Excuse me, how come this is yours? Did you buy it? Do you have the receipt?” The neighbors were coming to their doors because of the disturbance. It wasn’t that expensive, so I let it go. Later on, my friend with the truck helped me to write a letter to the property manager explaining that they were putting a lot of roommates in the apartment, which is illegal.
And just in case you’re wondering, Rabello is a completely different roommate than the one from whom Santos allegedly stole a Burberry scarf, which he wore to a “Stop the Steal” rally in 2021. (Santos did not respond to Insider’s request for comment regarding the alleged theft.)
As you’ve probably heard by now, while Santos did not, in fact, work at Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, he did work for a company that was accused by the SEC of orchestrating a Ponzi scheme. That firm was called Harbor City Capital, and in a deep dive on Santos’s time there, The Washington Post spoke to several people whom Santos pitched, including one who described their meeting, which took place at Santos’s favorite Italian restaurant, as being like a scene out of the movie Goodfellas. That same would-be investor said that after their meeting, Santos sent him a deluge of messages asking when he was going to invest, later exploding with anger when he declined.
Perhaps even weirder are the claims Santos reportedly made about his professional network. According to the Post, he said claimed to have had a “personal relationship” with the CEO of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, a.k.a. CalPERS, a.k.a. the largest public pension fund in the country. He also said he was going to win a multimillion-dollar investment from the agency, on top of the six deals he’d previously worked on with it. (Not surprisingly, CalPERS denied all of this and told the Post that no one by the name of George Santos or George Devolder had “any relationship with the pension fund’s CEO.”)
Oh, and then there’s this one:
During a meeting in early 2020, Santos claimed that he once accidentally flipped over a table while in the office of Stephen A. Schwarzman, the billionaire private-equity investor and Blackstone CEO. “I actually sat on a chair inside of Blackstone’s office on the day of the signing of a deal…and I flipped backwards, flipping the table on the chief executive…I flipped the table on Schwarzman.”
“I walked out of there feeling like a completely incompetent idiot,” he added, according to Zoom footage of the meeting.
Setting aside the bizarre matter of why anyone would claim to have accidentally flipped a table over, there is approximately a 0% chance that Santos was ever in a room with Schwarzman, who has an estimated net worth of $30.1 billion and is literally one of the most powerful people in finance. (A spokesman for Blackstone told the Post that Schwarzman “has no recollection of any such incident or meeting Mr. Santos, and we have found no record of Mr. Santos having a business relationship with Blackstone.”)
Santos previously claimed that a $500,000 loan he made to his campaign had come from his personal funds, which raised a large number of questions given that it wasn’t clear how he would have had that kind of cash sitting around. (In fact, as The New York Times reported last month, Santos was evicted by two different landlords and appeared, at one time, to be unable to pay just $2,250 in rent.)
But a new campaign finance filing, per the Daily Beast, tells a different story. The filing still says that the half a million dollars came “from the candidate,” but the previously ticked box indicating “personal funds of the candidate” is checked no longer. Another new filing shows that a $125,000 “loan from the candidate” also was not made from personal funds. And if you’re finding yourself even more confused than you were 30 seconds ago, you’re not alone. “We have a number of seasoned lawyers in the office and in our community, and everyone is pretty much collectively scratching their heads,” Robert Maguire, the research director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told NBC News of the filings. Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director of government watchdog Documented, told the Daily Beast: “I don’t know what they think they are doing. Santos’s campaign might have unchecked the ‘personal funds of candidate’ box, but it is still reporting that the $500,000 came from Santos himself. If the ‘loan from candidate’ didn’t actually come from the candidate, then Santos should come clean and disclose where the money really came from. Santos can’t uncheck a box and make his legal problems go away.”
And go away they haven’t! Last month federal prosecutors in Brooklyn reportedly launched an investigation into the congressman, which was said to include a probe of his finances. He is also under investigation by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. Meanwhile, the New York State attorney general’s office has separately said it is “looking into a number of issues” concerning Santos.
Other Campaign-Money Questions
It was already known that Santos’s campaign shadily recorded more than three dozen expenses all costing $199.99, an amount conveniently just one cent below the threshold at which campaigns must keep receipts. But just how shady was it? Well, a new report from Politico puts it in stark terms for anyone thinking that maybe this whole thing was really just a funny coincidence:
Campaigns rack up millions of dollars in expenses and thousands of line items per campaign, but it is rare for them to notch even one $199 expense, according to a Politico review of campaign finance records. FEC data shows more than 90% of House and Senate campaign committees around the country did not report a single transaction valued between $199 and $199.99 during the 2022 election cycle.
Santos reported 40 of them.
The rarity of campaign expenses falling so close to the legal limit for retaining receipts has raised concerns that the Santos campaign’s disbursements were “deliberately falsified,” a complaint from the Campaign Legal Center alleges. Major questions about Santos’s campaign financing remain unanswered, including the source of $700,000 that the New York congressman ostensibly loaned to his campaign despite questions about his personal finances.
“This was a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar operation,” Adav Noti, a former FEC lawyer and senior vice president at the Campaign Legal Center, which has filed a complaint against the New York congressman, told the outlet. “We don’t know where the money came from. We don’t know where the money went to.”
In related news, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose Speakership has been one humiliation after another, said on Tuesday that Santos will be removed from Congress if the House Ethics Committee determines he broke the law. Until then, however, he’ll be backing the guy. “You know why I’m standing by him? Because his constituents voted for him,” McCarthy said, leaving out the part about his constituents having voted for an entirely different person.
Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue: Marjorie Taylor Greene is reportedly “angling” to be Trump’s 2024 VP
Last November, we noted that there were few scarier phrases in the English language than “Donald Trump has kicked off his third bid for the White House,” except maybe “…and Marjorie Taylor Greene is his running mate.” Unfortunately for humanity, that first waking nightmare has indeed come to pass—and if the congresswoman from Georgia has anything to say about it, the second one is not far behind.
NBC News reports Greene is “angling to be Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024,” according to two people familiar with the matter who have spoken to the GOP representative about her plans for the future. “This is no shrinking violet, she’s ambitious—she’s not shy about that, nor should she be,” former Trump adviser and convicted criminal Steve Bannon told the outlet. “She sees herself on the short list for Trump’s VP. Paraphrasing [the late political reporter] Cokie Roberts, when MTG looks in the mirror she sees a potential president smiling back.” (Earlier this month, the Daily Beast reported that Greene was indeed on Trump‘s short list, along with Representative Elise Stefanik, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, and Democratic presidential candidate turned Fox News contributor Tulsi Gabbard.) Another person told reporter Jonathan Allen that Greene’s “whole vision is to be vice president,” adding that they believe she should be among the candidates the ex-president considers.
The same sources told NBC News that Greene’s vision explains her “recent efforts to rebrand herself as a politician who can stand astride the divide between the party’s hard-liners and its establishment wing,” and “threw herself into helping elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy” as Speaker of the House. “She’s both strategic and disciplined—she made a power move, knowing it would run up hard against her most ardent crew,” Bannon told Allen, referring to Greene’s break with her pals in the Freedom Caucus, whose opposition to McCarthy led to the California lawmaker losing the Speaker vote a whopping 14 times before his ultimate win. “She was prepared to take the intense heat/hatred short-term for the long-term goal of being a player.”
Of course, Greene can attempt to rebrand herself all she wants, but the fact remains that it will be hard for voters to forget about what they already know about her, the lowlights of which include that she:
– Believes there’s some “truth” to the conspiracy theories spread by QAnon, which claims that Democrats are part of a Satanic cabal of cannibals operating a global sex trafficking ring that conspired against Trump while he was in office;
– Doesn’t believe in evolution;
– Suggested school shootings like Parkland and Sandy Hook were false flags and/or staged, and that Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton wanted school shootings to happen so they could get gun control legislation passed;
– Claimed that a deputy sheriff from Broward County, Florida, was paid off to keep quiet about the Parkland shooting being an inside job;
– Harassed David Hogg, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, screaming at him on the street that he was a “coward” who was using children to further anti-gun initiatives;
– Endorsed calls for Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama to be executed;
– Insisted there’s no evidence a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11;
– Blamed the California wildfires on Jewish laser beams;
– Declared that the election of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were part of “an Islamic invasion of our government”;
– Introduced a bill that would criminalize transgender medical care;
– Spoke at an event put on by a well-known white nationalist;
– Voted against cancer patients;
– Voted against a resolution to award the Congressional Gold Medal to law enforcement agents who defended on January 6;
– Thinks the Clintons had JFK Jr. killed because he was Hillary’s competition for Senate.
And that’s just, like, a sampling.
In a statement, Greene’s spokesman insisted to NBC News that “Congresswoman Greene is laser focused on serving the people of Northwest Georgia on her new committees in the GOP majority. Her work on Oversight, Homeland Security, and the COVID Select committee is her priority and people shouldn’t get wrapped up into rumors.”
Need another reason to never log on to social media again?
We’ve got you covered. Per Axios:
Meta will reinstate former president Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts “in coming weeks” following a two-year suspension, according to Nick Clegg, the company’s president, global affairs. Why it matters: The decision sets a new precedent for how the company treats world leaders, and it could change the trajectory of the 2024 US presidential election.… Facebook, along with Twitter and many other social media platforms, barred Trump soon after the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol for breaking their rules and over fears of further incitements to violence.
Clegg seemed to suggest to Axios that Meta’s decision not to meet with Trump to let him plead his case somehow makes this more palatable, which, no, it does not. “This whole process was really about our decision on our terms,” he told the outlet.
Erm, very poorly?