It’s Groundhog Day, but George Santos is worried about a mole.
The Congressman told Semafor he expects recordings by a prospective staffer they interviewed this week to be published this evening by progressive news site Talking Points Memo.
“He's violated the trust that we had in him,” Santos said.
Santos, who has admitted to misrepresenting swaths of his biography, stepped down from his committee assignments earlier this week amid reported investigations into his personal and campaign finances and whether he defrauded a disabled veteran with a phony fundraising campaign (he denies the charge).
According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper. FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.
Santos told Semafor he was “empathetic” after coming across stories about the case given his own recent experience in the media, but summoned Myers to explain himself. He decided not to hire him after finding his answers “evasive,” he said.
But Santos’ office was subsequently contacted by TPM, he said, about a story based on apparent recordings of the conversation with Myers. While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.
It is legal under federal and local District of Columbia law to record your own conversation without the other participants’ consent. Nonetheless, Santos said he is looking for “guidance” on options to respond, and that he planned to alert prosecutors handling Myer’s case in Ohio. Santos also said that he intended to alert the Biden administration about the recording, because Myers had claimed to have a White House Press Pass. “He should have that revoked if it's true, if it's even remotely true he has it,” Santos said.
In screenshots of text messages provided by Santos’ office, Myers defended himself to his chief of staff after being informed he would not be hired.
“I was so loyal to George, I defended him everywhere I went and then he just throws me away like I’m replaceable because I am,” he wrote. “I want a second chance. This was never about the money. This was about purpose and serving the citizens. You gave George a second chance. Please let me at least have a FIRST chance.”
Myers did not immediately respond to a call and text messages seeking comment. An editor at TPM declined to comment.
Myers, whose Twitter bio reads “media mogul turned Hill staffer,” posted a selfie earlier today with a photo of himself apparently in Santos’ office with staffer Vish Burra (Santos' staff say the photo was not taken today). Burra, a colorful character in his own right, talked to TPM’s Hunter Walker for an in-depth profile that ran earlier this week.
Talking Points Memo published their story, which included an extended recording of a meeting between Santos and Myers to discuss Myers' situation.
In the posted audio, Santos told Myers he was reluctant to hire him because his background is “concerning to this institution.“
Myers told TPM later he was taken aback by the reasoning: “I’m thinking to myself, I’m a threat and concern to this institution — George Santos, you’re George Santos!“