George Santos insists he 'never claimed to be Jewish', but 'Jew-ish'

The embattled New York congressman also insisted that his grandparents were Holocaust survivors, despite evidence to the contrary


Embattled Republican congressman George Santos has insisted that he "never claimed to be Jewish", but rather that he said he was "Jew-ish".

In an interview on Monday evening with TalkTV's Piers Morgan, the controversial representative from New York also insisted that his maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors, despite immigrations records and expert genealogical examination contradicting the claim.

In a wide-ranging interview covering much of Santos' CV, the congressman admitted to some lies, but defended many of his previous claims and attacked the media extensively. He also admitted that he had been a "terrible liar".

Since his election in November 2022 to represent New York's 3rd congressional district, reporting from a vast number of outlets has cast doubt on many of the claims about his life made during his campaign, to the point where Santos has now admitted that some of those were lies or embellishments.

Along with claiming that his mother was in the Twin Towers on 9/11, that he attended Baruch College, worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, among many other details, he has also said a number of times that he is Jewish and that his maternal grandparents fled the Holocaust to Brazil in the 1940s.

During the interview on TalkTV, Piers Morgan put to him that family records show that his grandparents were born in Brazil, and said that a genealogist told CNN that there is "no sign of Jewish and/or Ukrainian heritage, and no indication of name changes along the way."

However, Santos replied: "So, this is the one that I'll battle to my grave."

He said that he has taken four DNA test kits in order to prove his claims to the public, telling Morgan: "I'm very curious to share those with everybody because I grew up... the story was my grandfather was born in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, migrated to Belgium, met my grandmother in 1940 or 1941. They fled to Brazil where they falsified a lot of their documents to claim they were born there."

He continued: "Look, we're talking about a time in history where this was a very common occurrence in the name of survival, and this has happened to other people and they were able to uncover it, and then apology letters were written. I've seen this happen in the Jewish community, in organisations, and I will be that same story. I'm working on that right now."

Morgan then suggested that it would be "pretty awful" to lie about family heritage in that way, to which an exasperated Santos replied: "Why would I play with that? I'm one of the most staunch pro-Israel, most staunch pro-Judaism people in Congress today."

Morgan then challenged him on his claims that he was Jewish, but Santos declared: "I never claimed to be Jewish!"

Morgan then quoted his previous statements, saying that Santos has claimed in the past to be: "Jewish, half-Jewish, a proud American Jew, a Latino Jew, and a non-observant Jew."

Santos replied that the claims were "a party favourite joke".

"What's funny about falsely claiming you're Jewish?" Morgan replied.

"No no no, not falsely claiming I'm Jewish," Santos said. "I'd always say I was raised Catholic, but I come from a Jewish family, so that makes me Jew-ish. It's always been a party favourite, everybody's always laughed, and now that everybody's cancelling me, everybody's pounding down for a pound of flesh."

"Because you're not Jewish," Morgan replied.

"I never said I was," Santos replied, despite Morgan having quoted the times he had, in fact, claimed to be Jewish.

"I would always say that my grandparents were Jewish on my mother's side, so I'm Jew-ish," Santos continued. "That was always a joke. Everybody used to laugh it up. I said it to a room with 1,000 people in November. People were hysterically laughing; it was funny to them. They loved it."

"I don't think Jewish people find it funny."

Morgan said that he doesn't think that Jewish people find it funny, to which Santos replied: "They were Jewish! I was in a room with the Republican Jewish Coalition."

Morgan pushed again on Jewish people finding his claims offensive, to which Santos replied: "I beg [to] differ when we were at the RJC in November."

Summing up Santos' position, Morgan said: "The problem you have, Congressman, it seems to me; you admit to certain big lies, and then you deny other big lies, and the problem people have is they don't know when you're lying and when you're telling the truth. I'm not even sure now, because how can I be?"

Santos replied: "I understand, and that's a position I've put myself in, right? My credibility is what I'm going to have a hard time and a long road to recover, and I stand clear and I stand certain that I'll be able to do that."

Elsewhere in the interview, Santos said that one of his "biggest regrets in life" was lying about obtaining a college education.

He was also challenged on his claim that his mother was in the South Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York City on 9/11, to which 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."

Asked by Morgan directly if he would admit to having lied in the past about his education, work history, and family background, Santos said directly: "I've been a terrible liar on those subjects."

"What I try to convey to the American people is, I made mistakes of allowing the pressures of what I thought needed to be done in order... this wasn't about tricking anybody. This was about getting accepted by the [Republican] Party."

FROM OPINION: George Santos’s Jewish fantasies indict American politics

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