WASHINGTON (AP) — Besieged Republican Rep. George Santos arrives on the Home ground most days to ship quick speeches — celebrating women-owned small companies, a particular highschool in his district or elevating concern about varied nations in crises.
At different instances he could be seen dashing via the halls of the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers do, from one assembly to the subsequent. He as soon as passed out doughnuts to the press corps staking out his workplace.
Removed from being chastened by the widespread criticism, mockery and rejection that Santos has obtained after having admitted to fabricating many elements of his life story, the newly elected congressman is breezily carrying on in Congress. He’s refusing requires his resignation all whereas rewriting the narrative in actual time.
For Santos, it’s an uncommon up-is-down method that may have been virtually unthinkable in an earlier era however one which indicators the brand new norms taking maintain amid the deepening of a post-truth period in Congress.
“I used to be elected by the folks to come back right here to symbolize them, and I do this every single day,” Santos informed The Related Press in a short interview off the Home ground.
“It’s a tough job. If I mentioned it was simple, I’d be mendacity to you — and I don’t suppose that’s what we wish, proper?”
Pressed in regards to the concept of a post-truth period, Santos mentioned, “I feel fact nonetheless issues very a lot.”
Maybe not since Donald Trump launched his presidency with exaggerated claims of the group measurement at his inauguration has an elected official arrived in Washington and sought so overtly and defiantly to persuade the general public of actuality completely different than the one earlier than their very eyes.
Santos is coming of political age at a time of an unmooring in civic life, when a duly-sworn member of the U.S. Congress can persevere, enterprise as common, regardless of having admittedly lied to voters about his resume, expertise and private life as he ran for elected workplace.
Whereas Santos faces a crush of investigations — by the House Ethics Committee and a county prosecutor in New York — in addition to questions from earlier costs in Brazil, the place he lived for a time, he seems unmoved by the challenges.
Just some days in the past, Santos filed paperwork to potentially seek reelection.
“It was that when a politician lied, and so they acquired caught, they have been ashamed — or there was some kind of accountability,” mentioned Lee McIntyre, the creator of “Submit-Fact” and a analysis fellow at Boston College.
“What I see within the post-truth period is not only that persons are mendacity or mendacity extra, it’s that they’re mendacity with a political function,” he mentioned. “The actually scary half is getting away with it.”
At stake is not only “truthiness,” as comic Stephen Colbert as soon as referred to as falsehoods in public life, however broader questions over the expectation of truth-telling from political management.
Santos has admitted he had portrayed himself as somebody he was not — not a university graduate, not a Wall Avenue whiz, not from a Jewish household of Holocaust survivors, not the son who misplaced his mom within the 9/11 World Commerce Heart assault.
Within the time since, extra questions have flowed, together with in regards to the origins of a $700,000 mortgage he made to his marketing campaign for Congress and his personal reported wealth.
Fellow Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito of New York, a freshman who gained election final fall from the neighboring Lengthy Island district, mentioned: “I don’t suppose it’s the state of politics. I feel it’s state of a person — and the state that he’s in is considered one of delusion.”
D’Esposito has launched a pair of payments that may stop elected officers from profiting off wrongdoing and mentioned he’s working with others to make sure Santos shouldn’t be “the face of our get together. We’ve made it very clear. He’s not our model. He’s not a part of us.”
Whereas Santos did remove himself from his committee assignments whereas the investigations are underway, he has withstood the stress from Republicans to resign and from Democrats to be expelled from workplace.
Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who gained a slim Republican majority with just some seats to spare, has mentioned the voters elected Santos and “he has a proper to serve.” If wrongdoing is discovered, Santos might be faraway from workplace, he mentioned.
“He ought to have resigned a very long time in the past,” mentioned Rep. Robert Garcia of California, the Democratic president of the freshman class who sponsored the decision to expel Santos.
“This isn’t simply Democrats saying this and his Republican colleagues in New York,” Garcia mentioned in an interview. “No one desires him in D.C.”
However Santos seems emboldened as his profile has risen, even being parodied on “Saturday Night time Dwell.” He has launched his personal payments in Congress — together with one to require cognitive checks for presidents — and is making an attempt to maneuver on.
“I’ve owned as much as it, and I got here clear on it,” he mentioned referring to the general public apologies he made in December.
When President Joe Biden arrived to ship the State of the Union handle final month, Santos infuriated colleagues by situating himself on the middle aisle — the place to see and be seen greeting the high-profile company. He was scolded by fellow Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who mentioned it was improper for Santos to be “parading in entrance of the president” and others.
“Senator Romney simply echoed one thing I heard my whole life, proper, coming from a minority group, coming from a poor household: Go to the again room and shut up. No one cares to listen to about you,” Santos recalled. “Nicely, I’m not going to try this.”
Santos typically turns the tables, participating within the whataboutism that has change into commonplace in trendy politics — the verbal somersault of equating one’s actions with these of others, even when they don’t seem to be fairly comparable conditions.
“You already know,” Santos mentioned, “have you ever ever not informed a lie? Assume onerous.”
It is what McIntyre calls a basic “disinformation tactic” designed to not carry readability however confusion, and keep away from accountability.
Requested if he was right here to remain, Santos mentioned, “I’m right here to do the job I used to be elected to do for the subsequent two years.”
However will he run for reelection? “Perhaps.”