Most Read

Top stories

Video Of George Santos Questioning His Dem Opponent's 'Honesty' During Campaign Debate Did Not Age Well

Republican Congressman-elect George Santos is getting mocked for having accused Robert Zimmerman of not being 'honest' during a campaign debate.

YouTube screenshot of Robert Zimmerman; YouTube screenshot of George Santos
CBS New York/YouTube

New York Republican Representative-elect George Santos was mocked online after a resurfaced video reminded critics that he had accused his Democratic opponent Robert Zimmerman of not being "honest" during a campaign debate.

At one point, Santos claimed that Zimmerman doesn't "want to be genuine with the American people" and questioned whether Zimmerman had ever had "an honest moment inside of [him]" when campaigning.

These comments exposed Santos—whose election on Long Island last month helped Republicans secure a slim majority in the House of Representatives—to even more heated criticism given he just admitted to “embellishing” his résumé after The New York Times published the results of an extensive investigation that called into question key elements of his biography.

You can hear Santos' remarks in the video below.

The Point: Democrat Robert Zimmerman, Republican George Santos debate - Part

During the debate, Santos denied that he had ever backed the insurrectionists who attacked the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, the day a mob of former Republican President Donald Trump's attempted to thwart Democrat Joe Biden's electoral victory on the false premise the 2020 general election had been stolen.

Santos continued to push back against Zimmerman even when Zimmerman came prepared with a transcript of Santos' own statements announcing that he'd paid legal fees for insurrectionists who'd been arrested for their participation in the attack.

Santos said:

"The problem with you is, Robert, that you want to read quotes all you want. The reality is you don't want to be genuine with the American people. That's why the rank and file of every single major law enforcement union on Long Island has endorsed me over you, because they know I stand with them."
"I don't bow, I don't bend, I don't play games, I don't play political nuclear football with law enforcement like you and your party do."

An undeterred Zimmerman went on to say that it's a fact Santos "supported the effort to overturn" the 2020 election despite "violence so extreme that police officers were killed" but Santos again denied that he had ever bailed insurrectionists out of jail:

"I did not support any effort to overturn any election unlike you for who 16 years denied the 2000 election saying [former Democratic Vice President] Al Gore won that race!" ...
"Do you have an honest moment inside of you ever when you're campaigning?" ... I never undermined our democracy. You know why? Because I've lived the American dream that your party are trying to diminish for the next generation."

Santos later accused the Democratic Party of "supporting the riots in New York City," referring to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests calling for racial justice and condemning police brutality that erupted in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, employing a common conservative talking point accusing Democrats of being soft on crime.

He declared himself part of the "fresh new leadership" that will address "dysfunction in Washington" because voters can relate to his story of growing up in "abject poverty" and "living in a basement apartment" in Jackson Heights, Queens.

But those claims don't match up with reality.

Earlier this month, Times journalists Grace Ashford and Michael Gold reported that Santos "misrepresented a number of his career highlights" despite building his candidacy "on the notion that he was the 'full embodiment of the American dream' and was running to safeguard it for others."

A Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil—where Santos, the son of Brazilian immigrants, spent some time—as well as "various attempts to verify claims" Santos made on the campaign trail, concluded that Santos had lied about everything from his education to his work history at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and even his source of income.

For instance, Santos claims he graduated from Baruch College but neither the Times nor a separate investigation by NPR could confirm this and the school told the latter outlet that it could find no match for a George Santos in its database. And while Santos has described himself as a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor,” neither Citigroup nor Goldman Sachs had records of him working at their firms.

Santos—who claims to have been gay all his life and did not reveal during his campaign that he had divorced a woman in 2019—even said in one interview that four of his employees died in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, claims that did not hold up under scrutiny.

And where Santos gets his income is still a mystery even though he reported a $750,000 salary and dividends of over $1 million from his company, the Devolder Organization, which doesn't appear to exist.

In the wake of this scandal, Zimmerman called on Santos to resign and to run against him again in a special election "if [he's] so convinced that... voters still trust [him]."

But given the facts, Santos' attacks against Zimmerman's "honesty"—or lack thereof—have not aged well at all and he has been soundly criticized for them.

Others have called on him to accept Zimmerman's proposal.

Santos later admitted to "embellishing" his résumé following the Times' report and had been earlier mocked online after he said he needed a few days to address the allegations, prompting many to opine that he was simply buying time to concoct more lies about his life story.

He fessed up to at least some of his lies in an interview with The New York Post, telling the conservative tabloid he is “embarrassed” by his false and misleading statements but that he nonetheless believes he will be an “effective” House Republican once the new Congress is seated in January.

Republican leaders have remained largely silent on the scandal even though some former supporters within the party have called upon Santos to explain himself, including the chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee as well as former Long Island Republican Congressman Peter T. King.

Observers have expressed doubt about whether the House would take action, given the chamber's narrow Republican majority in the incoming Congress. Santos recently announced he would support House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's bid for House Speaker, and McCarthy is struggling to obtain the majority of votes necessary to win the coveted position.

The House could decline to seat Santos, an action that would trigger a special election in a district that had previously favored Democrats, though Republicans are more likely to deny Santos committee assignments than expel him outright.