Representative George Santos says he can prove he has Jewish heritage, but it will have to wait until the Ukraine war is over.
The New York Republican has been plagued by controversy since arriving on Capitol Hill, including over his apparent lie that he is Jewish. Santos claims that his grandparents were Jews who fled persecution in Ukraine and then again in Belgium before settling in Brazil.
Santos insisted in a Sunday night interview that everything he has said about his heritage is true and that he is trying to acquire documentation to prove it.
“That’s what I spent the last 10 months doing, putting together, but unfortunately Ukraine is in the middle of a frickin’ war, and my grandfather comes from Ukraine,” he told CNN’s Manu Raju.
“That’s something … I’m gonna prove before I die.”
Santos said he has done DNA testing and hired genealogy experts. Those results should be available regardless of whether there is a war in Ukraine or not.
He then doubled down on his claim that he is “Jew-ish,” meaning that he is Roman Catholic but has Jewish heritage. Santos told Raju on Sunday that his grandparents had Brazilian citizenship documents forged.
But the Jewish news outlet Forward reported in December that Santos’s maternal grandparents were born in Brazil, well before the Nazis came to power in Europe, citing genealogy websites, a 1958 local newspaper article, and church records from 1928.
In addition to his heritage, Santos fabricated the vast majority of his personal and professional background and has been federally indicted for financial fraud and identity theft.
Santos appears to have falsely claimed that his mother died in the 9/11 attacks and that four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. He also lied about founding an animal rescue charity and producing the disastrous Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
But somehow, Santos managed to survive an expulsion vote last week. Even some Democrats voted to let him stay, saying he should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
That proof may come sooner rather than later: Santos has been federally charged with 23 counts of various types of financial fraud. He pleaded not guilty to the initial 13 in May, and he has denied the additional 10 that were filed Tuesday night in a superseding indictment. Earlier this year, he also agreed to a deal with Brazilian authorities investigating him for financial fraud so that he could avoid prosecution.