It was frequently reported in the last two weeks that even though George Santos, the incoming Republican Congressman from New York, has been accused of lying about everything from his resume to his ethnic background to the circumstances of his mother’s death, Santos would still take the oath of office as scheduled on the first day of the new Congress.
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That day, Tuesday, passed without Santos being sworn in but it had nothing to do with his scandals.
Due to the drama in the House of Representatives, with three ballots Tuesday failing to elect a Speaker of the House, the business of Congress could not go forward- and that included the swearing in of new members of Congress. This was the case even though many incoming members had brought their families with them to Washington, as is normally the case for such ceremonies.
So how did George Santos spend his first day, as a sort-of Congressman?
According to one report, by Slate, he mostly spent it sitting alone. He was also caught on camera yawning, at one point.
“No one is having a worse day than incoming Rep. George Santos, the millennial Republican who flipped a seat on Long Island in November despite (or, actually, because of) lying about nearly every aspect of his biography, including working at Citigroup, graduating from Baruch College, having grandparents who fled the Nazis, and being Jewish,” the piece said. “No one wanted to sit near him.”
ABC News reporter Ben Siegel tweeted that one lawmaker, Rep. Ken Calvert, went over to introduce himself to Santos – but once he realized who Santos was, Calvert “bolted away.”
Santos did participate in the Speaker votes, backing Rep. Kevin McCarthy on all three ballots Tuesday.
Still, Slate was particularly taken by the image of George Santos sitting alone for a long day on the floor of the House.
“They are portraits of quietude amid the chaos of the new Congress, depicting a man alone with his thoughts because his thoughts are the only company that will have him,” the piece said. “They evoke the spirit of a person who has arrived at a party uninvited, having underestimated how conspicuous and unwelcome he will be, who must now occupy himself in a corner until his mom can come to retrieve him. They capture the essence of what might well be understood as ‘the pain of middle school.’”
So what’s next for Santos?
Almost certainly nothing good. Brazil, where he formerly lived, is re-opening a years-old criminal case from when Santos was accused of stealing a checkbook. Closer to home, there are already at least two criminal investigations launched into Santos’ web of lies, with more very likely. The bad reveals about Santos’ past have continued to dribble out, and it’s very possible that this dribble will continue indefinitely.
With the Republican majority so thin, it’s unlikely that the GOP leadership — whoever it ends up being – will push hard for his ouster, especially since it would trigger a special election in a swing district that may very well cause the Republican House majority to get even smaller.
Also on Tuesday, there was another report of a potential Santos lie – but this one turned out to be a bit more defensible than most of the others.
According to the Washington Post, a press release appeared on Santos’ official Congressional website Tuesday stating that Santos “was sworn in as a Member of the United States House of Representatives by the Speaker of the House on January 3rd, 2023.”
This was, of course, not true — neither George Santos nor anyone else was sworn in Tuesday, and there is no Speaker of the House currently. But this isn’t quite another Santos lie- press releases with identical language, with the exception of the names, were posted on the same day on the sites of several other new House members of both parties. It appears to have been done through some type of automated process.
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today.