Grant Lally—the publisher of the Long Island newspaper The North Shore Leader—told MSNBC he knew New York Republican Representative George Santos was a "grotesque fraud" from the moment they met in 2020.
Santos—whose election on Long Island in November helped Republicans secure a slim majority in the House of Representatives—is facing calls to resign after admitting to “embellishing” his résumé following an investigative report by The New York Times.
Lally described Santos' behavior as "pure evil" and said he knew something was off about him “right from the start."
You can hear what he said in the video below.
“I asked him a lot of questions, a lot of pointed questions, a lot of personal questions—not an unfriendly meeting at all. But he was really a weirdo right from the start."
“He was evasive. He was also just basking in the attention he was getting, which I thought was very weird for a guy who at the time was only 31 years old, but claimed to be a multimillionaire financier."
“We felt very vindicated [by other media] because we had called him out as a fake. [Santos’ lying was] beyond our wildest expectations."
“We didn’t think someone would lie about attending Baruch College. We didn’t think someone would lie about working at Goldman Sachs.”
Democrats and some commentators expressed surprise and disappointment opposition research did not detect or act on Santos' résumé discrepancies before the election.
However, in September, months before The New York Times published the results of its investigation, The North Shore Leader published an article about the "inexplicable rise" in Santos' alleged net worth to $11 million and noted other inconsistencies in his biography.
While the Leader's scoop is the type of hard-hitting local reporting that, once verified and amplified by regional outlets, has been known to inform the public of emerging political scandals, no one took notice of the story before election day.
In response to that glaring oversight, the newspaper published an editorial titled "The Leader Told You So: US Rep-Elect George Santos is a Fraud—and Wanted Criminal" which denounced Santos as "a deepfake liar who has falsified his background, assets, and contacts" and compared him to the pathological liars and con artists played by actors Will Smith and Matt Damon in Six Degrees of Separation and The Talented Mr. Ripley respectively.
Lally said he regretted the story wasn’t picked up by other media at the time his newspaper published it, saying had it been “we wouldn’t have to deal with this sociopath in the U.S. Congress right now."
Many echoed Lally's frustrations.
Calls for Santos to step down intensified this month after The New York Times published an article detailing how Santos gave Long Island, New York Republican officials a bogus résumé when he first expressed interest in running for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Santos lied about everything from his education to his work history at Goldman Sachs. Had Nassau County Republicans "dug into any of the claims," The Times noted, "they would probably have found that much of Mr. Santos’ account was baldly fabricated."