Embattled GOP Rep. George Santos rose on the House floor Friday to deliver a one-minute speech for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The speech came after Santos admitted to fabricating parts of his background, including his education, work experience and his supposed Jewish heritage.
“Let this day serve as a reminder that we must honor the victims and survivors. We must also pay tribute to the liberators who rescued millions of people who nearly fell victim to the Holocaust,” said Santos, who has been condemned by Jewish groups for falsely claiming to be Jewish.
During his remarks, the New York lawmaker took a moment to acknowledge the grandmother of one of his staff members, who he said was a 93-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
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“Antisemitism is a plague in this nation, and it is undoubtedly up to us to ensure this kind of tragedy is never to be seen again,” Santos said. “This is a tribute to aging survivors and the Jewish community. We must guarantee access to the services they need to live long and dignified lives. This day and every day, we give credence to the dark side of humanity, but try for a better brighter future.”
Before winning the election to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District in November, Santos had claimed in his campaign biography that he was of Jewish descent. He said his grandparents were born in Ukraine and had escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to Belgium, resettling in Brazil.
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But after a New York Times report uncovered that Santos had lied about his education and work history, The Forward, a Jewish publication, took a closer look at Santos’ family and reported that his grandparents had been born in Brazil, not Ukraine as Santos had claimed.
Confronted with allegations of lying about his heritage, Santos told the New York Post in an interview he is Catholic. He said he “never claimed to be Jewish,” even though the newspaper described a blurb on his campaign website that claimed his mother was Jewish and that his grandparents escaped the Nazis during World War II.
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“I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was ‘Jew-ish’,” Santos told the Post in a quote that was widely derided.
After publication of the New York Post interview, the Republican Jewish Coalition disavowed Santos and said he had “deceived us and misrepresented his heritage.”
“In public comments and to us personally, he previously claimed to be Jewish. He has begun his tenure in Congress on a very wrong note. He will not be welcome at any future RJC event,” CEO Matt Brooks said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called on Santos to resign. Though he faces an ethics probe, Santos has stubbornly insisted he is not going anywhere unless the New Yorkers who voted for him all demand he resign.
A Siena College Research Institute poll published Monday found 49% of Republican registered voters want him to step down, while 26% said he should finish his term in Congress.
Fox News’ Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.
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