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George Santos on TalkTVImage source, TalkTV

By George Bowden

BBC News, Washington DC

Congressman George Santos has admitted to having been “a terrible liar” when confronted with his embellished résumé in a new TV interview.

The embattled Republican told TalkTV’s Piers Morgan he had made mistakes under pressure but his lies were not about “tricking the people”.

Instead, he said, it was about “getting accepted by the party here locally”.

Mr Santos has faced fierce controversy since his election in November.

He was initially lauded as the first openly gay Republican to win a seat in the House of Representatives as a non-incumbent when he won in New York’s third district.

But within weeks, the New York Times published a story that called into question large portions of his CV, including his education and work experience, triggering a wave of further reporting.

He is alleged to have faced fraud charges in Brazil, presided over prolific campaign spending, lied about working for Goldman Sachs and about owning property – and even claimed to have produced the ill-fated Spider-Man musical on Broadway.

Speaking to Piers Morgan on Monday, Mr Santos said one of his “biggest regrets in life” was lying about obtaining a college education.

Asked why he had chosen to do so, Mr Santos said: “Expectation on society, the pressure, couldn’t afford it.

“Decided I wanted to run for office, although I had built a very credible business career, but I just didn’t have that part of my biography.”

“I just went with it, if you are going to make up a lie, are you thinking at all?” he added.

Mr Santos pointed out that he had run for the same Congressional seat in 2020 “and I got away with it then”.

He reiterated his claim that he had never said he was Jewish, and repeated what he described as a “party-favourite joke” by describing himself as “Jew-ish”.

Challenged over a claim that his mother was in the South Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York City on 9/11, Mr Santos said: “That’s true.”

“I won’t debate my mother’s life as she’s passed in [2016] and it’s quite insensitive to try to rehash my mother’s legacy,” he said.

He added: “She wasn’t one to mislead me… I stay convinced that’s the truth.”

The 34-year-old, who has faced calls from within his party to resign, was asked about the experience of the scrutiny he has come under.

“It’s uncomfortable,” he said. “I can’t stand it and a lot of people think I love it, I just can’t stand it… you need to learn how to deal with it and that’s what I’m doing.”

Asked about an apology, Mr Santos said: “I have looked inside a camera and said sorry… If you can ask for forgiveness, I think that is the first step.”

On whether he would have wanted to run for office knowing the pressure that would follow, Mr Santos said simply: “Absolutely not.”

Mr Santos, who is the subject of multiple Congressional investigations, is also facing an allegation of sexual misconduct from a former aide.

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