Yes, Tulsi Gabbard eviscerated fraudulent Congressman-elect George Santos (R-NY) last night but she failed to ask any of the most important questions and she began by suggesting Democratic members of Congress are just as dishonest.
Ever since The New York Times broke the story of Santos’ almost completely deceitful resumé, not to mention hints of criminality, Republican leaders have remained silent about punishing someone who helped give the party its very small majority. That’s despite the fact that even more Santos deceit has emerged in the week since then.
Gabbard’s introduction suggested that Santos is no worse than Democrats
GABBARD: Now, permanent Washington has created a culture where it is acceptable to lie to further your own interests, just try not to get caught. I should know, I served in Congress for eight years.
But even when these politicians do get caught, people just shrug their shoulders and move on. No big deal, no consequences.
Few examples, Dick Blumenthal lied about his military service. And of course, Elizabeth Warren, she lied about having Native American heritage. So no one should be surprised that the American people don't trust these politicians. They've got no faith that those in Washington are actually working for the people when they're so clearly working for themselves.
FACT CHECK: Sen. Elizabeth Warren did not lie about having Native American heritage. FactCheck.org noted that a genetic test found “strong evidence” of a Native American ancestor 6-10 generations ago. But FactCheck also noted that Warren was the repeated target of Trump’s false accusations that she had lied.
It’s true that Blumenthal misrepresented his service record. But he also acknowledged and regretted it while he was still a candidate for the U.S. Senate - and got elected anyway. More importantly, the rest of Blumenthal’s resumé was legit and, apparently, without a hint of criminality, unlike Santos’. Coincidentally, Donald Trump wildly exaggerated Blumenthal’s misstatements in order to repeatedly attack him, too. Gabbard mentioned none of that context, of course.
Nonetheless, Gabbard was quite impressive in her takedown of Santos. But given that she is a relatively new hire at Fox, that she was guest hosting for Murdoch-pet Tucker Carlson last night and that she endorsed a slew of MAGA/Fox candidates on and off the air in the recent midterm election cycle, it strikes me as highly unlikely that her skewering was not pre-ordained by Fox higher ups. Especially since the Murdoch-controlled New York Post painted Santos as a big liar, too.
Yes, we should appreciate Gabbard smashing to bits Santos’ efforts to make himself a hero and a victim
For example, here’s what happened when Santos tried to rehabilitate himself by downplaying his fraud as something anyone might have done but that he was bravely owning up to:
SANTOS: I made a mistake. And I think humans are flawed and we all make mistakes, Tulsi. I think we can all look at ourselves in the mirror and admit that once in our life, we made a mistake.
I'm having to admit this on national television for the whole country to see, and I have the courage to do so because I believe that in order to move past this and move forward and be an effective member of Congress, I have to face my mistakes, and I'm facing them.
The reality is, is that I remain committed to doing everything I set forward in my campaign. I'm not a fraud. I'm not a fake. I didn't materialize from thin air.
I worked damn hard to get where I got my entire life. Life wasn't easy. It didn't start off easy. As I've said it many, many times I come from abject poverty.
I made some mistakes, and I own up to them. And now I want to put this behind me so I can deliver for the American people.
GABBARD: The thing is, Congressman-elect, integrity means, yes, carrying yourself with honor, but it means telling the truth, being a person of integrity.
SANTOS: Of course.
GABBARD: And if I were one of those in New York's third district right now, now that the election is over, and I'm finding out all of these lies that you've told not just one little lie or one little embellishment, these are blatant lies.
My question is, do you have no shame? Do you have no shame in the people who are now you're asking to trust you to go and be their voice for them, their families, and their kids in Washington?
It didn’t go any better when Santos tried to suggest Democrats are no different – even though Gabbard had just done the same thing.
SANTOS: Tulsi, I can say the same thing about the Democrats and the party. Look at Joe Biden, Joe Biden has been lying to the American people for 40 years. He is the President of the United States. Democrats, resoundingly support him. Do they have no shame? Look, I've made this very clear. I made a mistake.
GABBARD: This is not about the Democratic Party, though, this is about your relationships, frankly.
Santos went on to describe criticisms of him as “nitpicking,” which Gabbard also shut down.
SANTOS: So, look I understand everybody wants to nitpick at me. I am going to reassure this once and for all. I'm not a facade, I'm not a persona. I have an extensive career that I worked really hard to achieve, and I'm going to deliver from my experience because I remain committed in delivering results for the American people.
GABBARD: The results that people are looking for are called in to question when you tell blatant lies, not embellishments, and this is I think one of the biggest concerns, Congressman-elect is that you don't really seem to be taking this seriously.
This didn’t work out so well for Santos either:
SANTOS: And as I stated, and I continue, we can debate my resume and how I worked with firms such as Goldman and Citigroup.
GABBARD: Is debatable or is it just false?
SANTOS: No, it is very debatable.
GABBARD: Is debatable or is it just false?
SANTOS: No, it is not false at all, it's debatable.
GABBARD: Congressman-elect Santos we've given you a lot of time, I think the time that is owed is to the people of New York's third [Congressional district]. It's hard to imagine how they could possibly trust your explanations when you're not really even willing to admit the depth of your deception to them.
But behind this made-for-Murdoch-TV exchange lay some serious questions that Gabbard failed to ask. Namely, about Santos' finances. Where did he get the $700,000 he gave his campaign? As The Washington Post explained, Santos’ lies also include financial misstatements that could be criminal. Did someone bankroll his candidacy and/or his business? If so, why?
From The Washington Post:
At one point, Santos said on his campaign website that [his company] Devolder was a privately held family firm that had $80 million in assets under management, a claim that has since been removed.
Documents filed with the Florida secretary of state show that Santos organized the company in May 2021, one month before he declared his latest candidacy. A little more than a year later, on July 30, 2022, the financial data company Dun & Bradstreet estimated that Devolder had a revenue of only $43,688.
In any case, on Sept. 6, when Santos filed his financial disclosure report with the clerk of the U.S. House, he said the Devolder Organization had provided him with millions of dollars. Santos reported that the Devolder Organization had paid him an annual salary of $750,000 in 2021 and 2022, and that the company was worth between $1 million and $5 million.
Asked in the radio interview about a report that he had put $700,000 into his campaign, he responded: “That is the money of — that I’ve paid myself through my company, Devolder Organization.”
Candidates are required to file accurate reports of their finances with the clerk of the House. If a candidate knowingly files a form that is false, it could violate a number of laws, according to the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.
Yes, Gabbard was mostly righteous in her interview. But let’s be very clear about what she both did and didn’t do.
But don’t let that stop you from enjoying Gabbard’s confrontation with Santos below, from the December 27, 2022 Tucker Carlson Tonight. Do note the Santos-friendly lower-third banners, though, as well as the one falsely claiming, “Tulsi Gabbard gets to the bottom of a resume scandal.”
As far as Tulsi goes, there’s little she can say to convince me she’d not do the same if she thought she could.