Ziwe and George Santos: Seven unbelievable moments and the truth behind the cringe

Former GOP Congressman George Santos sat down for an interview with Ziwe, and the host and comedian truly ate and left no crumbs during 18 chaotic minutes. 

The disgraced lawmaker immediately started grifting after his expulsion from the House on 2 December. In an attempt to keep his name relevant, Santos jumped at an invitation by Ziwe via X/Twitter for an interview. 

The ensuing conversation was pure chaos as Santos frantically scrambled to cover up his web of lies as Ziwe’s amazing talent to disarm others came into full effect she asked hard-hitting questions.

Truly, it was like watching a trainwreck, and – like any trainwreck – it’s important to delve deeper beyond the surface level carnage into why Santos deserved such intense scrutiny. 

Here are seven of the cringiest moments from the Ziwe and George Santos standoff, and the truth behind embarrassing remarks from the “national joke”.

George Santos claimed he was ‘never’ a politician even though he literally was

George Santos wears a black shirt, blue jacket and dark trousers as he sits across from Ziwe who is wearing a red outfit
George Santos alleged that he was “never” a politician even though he had a career in politics and held office. (YouTube/Ziwe)

During the interview, Santos talked at length about how there are loads of ‘liars’ in Congress. He boasted to Ziwe that a politician is lying everytime time their “mouth is moving on Capitol Hill”. 

He then followed it up with: “I’m not a politician. Never was, never will be.”

So first off, as a point of clarification, he certainly was a politician. The literal meaning of the word is a person who is “professionally involved in politics”, especially if they’re a “holder of an elected office”. 

Santos was elected to the House in November 2022 after he won New York’s 3rd Congressional District seat. A self-admitted “terrible liar”, he portrayed himself on the campaign trail as the “full embodiment of the American dream”: an out gay child of immigrants who worked hard in high-profile companies before beginning a career in politics

His story began to quickly unravel even before he was sworn into office, but more on that later. 

He claimed everyone in Congress is a fraud while facing his own fraud charges

George Santos wears a black shirt and blue jacket as he sits in front of a bunch of books during an interview with Ziwe. In this frame, he is smiling as he gestures with his hands in front of his face
George Santos told Ziwe that there are a lot of fraudsters on Capitol Hill. He’s currently in talks for a plea deal after being charged with 23 counts, including several fraud charges. (YouTube/Ziwe)

Santos insisted that Republicans and Democrats are all “swampy, slimy people selling this country down a river”. Following such a proclamation, Ziwe asked if he could name specific members of Congress who are frauds. 

“They are all frauds,” he replied. “If you were to put them under the same scrutiny that I was under, you’d f**king vacate the whole goddamn building.”

After Ziwe iconically demanded he “name ‘em”, George Santos claimed Kevin McCarthy, Lindsey Graham, Bob Menendez and Dan Goldman are frauds – but Marjorie Taylor Green and Matt Gaetz are not. Take that as you will.

Santos himself is in talks for a plea deal after he was indicted on 23 charges, including various kinds of fraud.

In May, the Justice Department announced 13 federal charges against Santos, and in October, a superseding indictment listing 23 counts was filed. The charges include credit card fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud, money laundering and making materially false statements to the US House. 

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

‘A gift from your husband – the American people?

George Santos wears a black shirt and blue jacket as he sits in front of a bunch of books during an interview with Ziwe. In this frame, he's looking off to the side
Ziwe asked George Santos how many “stolen credit cards” paid for his look after the GOP politician was accused of using donors’ money to purchase luxury goods. (YouTube/Ziwe)

Later in the interview, Santos and Ziwe discuss his love of fashion and shopping. Santos blankly stared as Ziwe bluntly asked: “How many stolen credit cards did you use to pay for this look?”

Ziwe followed up by saying Santos likes “nice stuff”, giving an example of the luxury brand Hermes. But Santos claimed he doesn’t own a lot of Hermes things before remembering his bracelet is from the brand. 

“This was a gift from my husband,” Santos said, gesturing to the bracelet. 

“A gift from your husband – the American people? Is it a metaphor?” she asked, referring to Santos’ alleged use of his donors’ money. 

Santos brushed off her absolute cracker of a question around whose money has paid for the politician’s look by reiterating his husband got the gift. 

But In November, a damning bipartisan congressional report listed a myriad of concerns about how Santos spent campaign money.

The investigation found that he allegedly used thousands of campaign dollars for spa treatments such as Botox, subscriptions on OnlyFans, his rent, luxury store purchases and trips to Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Santos called the report a “politicised smear” in a statement on social media before announcing he wouldn’t seek a second term as a result of what he called a “grave miscarriage of justice”. 

George Santos walked back past claims tying him to historic tragedies

George Santos wears a black shirt and blue jacket as he sits in front of a bunch of books during an interview with Ziwe. In this frame, there's a little line that says "Fact check: George Santos did say 9/11 claimed his mother's life."
George Santos claimed he never said 9/11 “claimed” his mother’s life or that his grandparents “survived” the Holocaust – but he did. (YouTube/Ziwe)

Ziwe grilled Santos about his personal, professional and family histories, which he used to further his political career. Specifically, Santos claimed he had Jewish ancestry, his mother died in the 9/11 terror attacks and “lost four employees” in the horrific 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. 

“I did not say my mom died in 9/11,” Santos said. 

In July 2021, Santos wrote on X/Twitter that 9/11 “claimed [his] mother’s life”. His biography on his campaign website said his mother “survived the tragic events” but “passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer”. 

However, various reports found his mother wasn’t even in the US on that day. 

George Santos told Ziwe that he said his grandparents “fled the Holocaust” – not that they survived it. 

In 2021, the then-congressional candidate claimed in a campaign video that his “grandparents survived the Holocaust”. He doubled down on his claims when he told the Jewish News Syndicate that he was “very proud of [his] grandparents’ story”, which he claimed included “fleeing Hitler”. 

He also backtracked on his campaign claims that he was a “proud American Jew”, clarifying that he’s not Jewish but rather “Jew-ish”

“Do you think it’s appropriate for politicians to use terror for their own professional gain?” Ziwe asked. 

“That’s what politicians do,” Santos said. 

George Santos told Ziwe that he’d ‘love to go read a b***h’ on Drag Race.

George Santos wears a black shirt and blue jacket as he sits in front of a bunch of books during an interview with Ziwe. In this frame, he is making a funny face
George Santos said he’d be interested in appearing on Drag Race, but he’s been slammed by some of the show’s top stars over his previous comments about drag. (YouTube/Ziwe)

At one point in the interview, Ziwe frankly asked what it would take for Santos to just “go away”. Santos responded: “Stop inviting me to your gigs.”

Ziwe questioned if that meant Santos wouldn’t be making a surprise appearance on shows like Dancing with the Stars or Drag Race. Apparently, Santos hasn’t received an invitation to sashay down the runway, but he would “love to read a b***h”. 

The Republican also confirmed that he was a drag queen “for a day” when he was 18 years old. This was despite Santos saying he wasn’t a drag queen named Kitara Ravache in the face of old photos and social media accounts of him as the persona.

But Santos shouldn’t pin his hopes on sashaying alongside RuPaul anytime soon as he’s not made any friends in the drag community. 

Santos’ emphatic denial that he was part of the drag scene resulted in mass shading from Drag Race stars. He even tried to start a Twitter feud with Trixie Mattel, who expertly read him to filth

Drag has been a hot-button issue in the party as more Republicans push bills attacking performers. Santos’ Congress bestie, Marjorie Taylor Greene, alleged that the drag “agenda” is “targeting our children” while raging about family-friend reading events. 

Speaking of Santos and Greene, the pair joined forces in February to co-sponsor a bill with the intent of banning books with LGBTQ+ characters or themes from US schools

Santos struggled to identify LGBTQ+ and civil rights icons – and it was honestly painful

Former GOP congressman George Santos wears a blue suit jacket and black shirt as he is interviewed by Ziwe on civil rights icons including Marsha P Johnson
George Santos struggled to define Marsha P Johnson’s legacy, and he completely failed questions about other LGBTQ+ and civil rights icons. (YouTube/Ziwe)

The embattled politician, who previously compared himself to Rosa Parks because he said he refused to sit in the back row in the House chamber, gave baffling responses when Ziwe asked him to share a few words about what famous civil rights leaders meant to him.

First up was Marsha P Johnson, a LGBTQ+ rights activist and Black trans icon. 

“Very respectful, honourable person,” Santos said. “Keep going.”

“Respectful and honourable in what way?” Ziwe pressed.

“On all the stances and all the work,” Santos replied.

Johnson holds a special place within the LGBTQ+ community, and Santos’ vague response suggested he has no idea who she is. 

The trans activist was instrumental in the 1969 Stonewall riots, which kickstarted the modern fight for queer rights in the US, and she established the landmark STAR organisation alongside fellow activist Sylvia Rivera. 

Honestly, it was such a vibe when Ziwe honestly told Santos: “You don’t know her.” 

Embarrassingly, Santos admitted he is wholly ignorant of James Baldwin, a gay Black writer and civil rights activist. He also didn’t know who Harvey Milk – the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California – was, which is honestly just bad for a fellow LGBTQ+ politician.

“Who the hell is James Baldwin?” Santos said, adding that he had “no clue” who Milk was either. 

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