We have become accustomed to being drawn to a certain level of truth in American politics. Politicians twist facts to justify their plans. Some polish the rough edges of their resumes or bolster military credentials in the hopes that no one will notice. Notoriously, Donald Trump’s lie-filled presidency ended with a big lie about the 2020 election.

But even by the standards of this age of self-aggrandizement and alternative facts, it’s hard to find a case like George Santos, newly elected Republican Congressman from Long Island. According to a recent investigation by my colleagues Grace Ashford and Michael Gold, Santos didn’t so much embellish his biography as make it up: degrees, tragedies, religious beliefs, job credentials, even a Donation too.

“Politicians don’t tell the truth, of course. Nothing new. Everyone says that,” said Katie Sanders, managing editor of PolitiFact, a widely respected nonpartisan fact-checking service. “But this brazenness is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory.”

The most troubling question, however, may be what happens to Santos now. He has refused to step down, and his own party has shown little appetite to oust him, especially in the midst of a House leadership battle. His activities may yet lead to criminal charges. But short of a prosecution, the case is shaping up to be a test of voters’ tolerance for lies in the post-Trump political climate. Sanders called it “a huge moment for truth and lies in politics”.

Today’s newsletter will detail some of Santos’ most egregious fabrications and explain why he may not face immediate consequences.

As a candidate, Santos presented himself as a compelling political figure: a young, gay, conservative financier with deep ties and family wealth. Voters in his suburban New York district responded, giving him a nearly eight-point victory over the Democrat, Robert Zimmerman, in November.

In the weeks that followed, nearly every major point in Santos’ biography was revealed. He claimed to have graduated from Baruch College, then worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. But Grace and Michael find no evidence that he has a college degree or has worked for a financial giant. In fact, around that time, he worked as a customer service agent for Dish Network.

Santos claimed to have founded a tax-exempt animal rescue charity that saved over 2,500 dogs and cats. (He didn’t.) He claimed that he was Jewish and that his ancestors fled the Holocaust. (He wasn’t and wasn’t.) He said he “lost four employees” in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. (The Times found no evidence to support the claim.)

His financial claims have proved more ambiguous. Santos purported to have a family fortune in real estate, but property records show no evidence of the 13 properties he claimed the family owned. Records show evictions and credit card debt. He was also involved in a company the SEC called a Ponzi scheme, though he denies wrongdoing. According to court records in Brazil, she once spent about $700 using a stolen checkbook and a false name at a clothing store where Santos once lived.

Yet Santos claimed on federal financial disclosure forms last year that he was making millions. He also apparently loaned his campaign $700,000. Where this money came from is not clear.

Under intense political pressure, Santos admitted to fabricating some claims and stood by others, despite conflicting evidence. But he appeared determined to try to avoid scandal.

This week, he showed up in Washington like any other House freshman eager to get to work. As infighting over who should be speaker consumed Republicans on the floor of the House, Santos provided a spectacle of his own. For hours, he looked like a misplaced movie extra, sitting conspicuously alone (though he joined them) before marching toward a group of rebel conservatives trying to block Kevin McCarthy’s speaking ascent. did not vote). Yesterday, he hid in a cloakroom in the House Chamber for part of the day.

Santos’ support for McCarthy may actually be one of the factors separating him from Republican criticism. Santos’ lying could taint the party over time, and in other circumstances, GOP leaders could be marginalized or call a House vote to expel him. But with only a narrow House majority, McCarthy cannot afford to lose votes by isolating Santos or forcing him to resign. The leader is silent.

Santos may have a tough time with his new partners. Legislative deal-making is often built on trust, and can be effectively excluded from committee work and floor debate. Powerful Republicans have already said they will not support his re-election in 2024.

For now, Santos’ biggest threat may be legal. Federal and local prosecutors in New York have opened an investigation into whether Santos violated any laws during his campaign. And, in Brazil, prosecutors said they plan to reopen fraud charges involving stolen checkbooks.

  • Republican holdouts blocked Kevin McCarthy’s attempt to become House speaker for the third day in a row, despite McCarthy making concessions to impress them.

  • McCarthy lost 11 roll-call votes, the most since before the Civil War. The legislators returned this afternoon, but there is no indication of when the standoff will end.

  • The last voting battle for House Speaker was over 100 years ago. Carl Hulse of The Times writes, Today’s performance shares some eerie similarities with that one.

  • Donald Trump’s allies rejected his calls to support McCarthy, more evidence that his grip on the Republican Party is weakening.

  • There is also an ongoing conflict between Republicans in the House in the conservative media.

  • Angry MP, heated conversation and a football helmet: what it’s like on the House floor.

  • Doctors said Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, who suffered cardiac arrest during a game Monday night, is awake and improving. He remains on ventilator.

  • Radio traffic crackled with urgency in the moments following Hamlin’s collapse. You can listen to it here.

  • The forfeited Bills-Bengals game won’t restartNFL said.

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Protections for gay marriage on the one hand, and LGBTQ America being whipped by bigots who increasingly hunt down gay people, on the other. Lydia Polgreen it is said.

What will be the defining style of 2023? Vanessa Freedman, chief fashion critic of The Times, picks six reasons to be excited about fashion this year. His favorites include:

polka dots. Louis Vuitton collaborated with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama for a new collection, and Vanessa says it’s a dud. Hundreds of pieces of LV merchandise feature speckled dots, “like joyous confetti raining down on a sea of ​​logos.”

Pop culture influence. “Daisy Jones and the Six,” a series coming in March, may bring 1970s flower power to music festivals. And, come July, the new “Barbie” movie may be bringing the heat of neon pink.

Style on display in May: The month begins with the Met Gala, held in honor of Karl Lagerfeld. In less than a week, it’s time for King Charles III’s coronation in London, which will involve pomp and circumstance and serious bling, writes Vanessa.

#Lying #Congressman #York #Times

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