Rep. George Santos.

Rep. George Santos. Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

Daily Point

Former Newsday Opinion writer Mark Chiusano hits for the cycle on Santos

Four years ago, on assignment for The Point, Mark Chiusano called up George Santos to learn more about this guy with no political track record from Queens who wanted to take on House incumbent Tom Suozzi. Chiusano, whose book “The Fabulist” debuted to great buzz this week, will be in D.C. Thursday to capture the events that are likely to end Santos’ political career. It’s been quite a ride for Santos and Chiusano, who left the Newsday Opinion staff earlier this year to write the book.

The CD3 representative has scheduled a news conference Thursday morning and if he doesn’t use that moment of theater to resign, then the GOP House leadership is expected to schedule an expulsion vote.

Looking back on that first phone call to Santos on Nov. 13, 2019, Chiusano says his first encounter elicited typical Santos obfuscations, where inconsistencies in his life story were patched over with excuses or just dodged. Santos said that November day was “the official launch of his campaign,” even though he was in Florida at the time for a “work conference.” Santos’ dealings in Florida are part of the fraudulent schemes alleged in his federal indictment. Santos also told The Point that day that he “worked in private equity” and noted, “I’m not your typical Republican.”

Looking back at the item today, Chiusano said he got a laugh from the line he wrote at the end of what was Newsday’s first coverage of Santos: “His filings with the Federal Election Commission aren’t online yet, though he says he filed weeks ago.” Those troublesome filings are at the heart of the House Ethics Committee’s findings against Santos. The fraudster was so enamored of his early coverage that he posted the piece on his Facebook account.

So low on the horizon were his chances then — Santos was trounced by Suozzi the following year — that his candidacy was the last item in the daily newsletter, which began with Rep. Lee Zeldin’s support for President Donald Trump on the first day of the former president’s impeachment hearings in the House, followed by a report on how the New York Public Campaign Finance commission was ducking the tough issue of fusion voting. Only then, did The Point give readers an introduction to Santos under the sleepy headline: ”A new challenger arises.“

As for Chiusano’s book, Santos had some choice words about it when interviewed by Brazilian journalist Lúcia Guimarães. “The Fabulist,” said Santos, was “a fable” and proclaimed that he would write his own book to set the record straight. Guimarães relayed Chuisano’s observation that Santos had real talents and was “charming and adaptable” and possibly would show up next on the TV show "Dancing With the Stars."

Santos replied that his financial situation was so precarious that he would have to "do sh*t like that."

— Rita Ciolli

Pencil Point

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Final Point

Trump trivia: Which Nassau County Republican did he endorse earlier this month?

Former President Donald Trump's Truth Social post about Howard Kopel,...

Former President Donald Trump's Truth Social post about Howard Kopel, left, and Kopel. Credit: James Escher

Three weeks ago, Howard J. Kopel was elected to his eighth term in the Nassau County Legislature. With top seniority in the chamber, the Lawrence Republican is considered a contender for presiding officer, although political handicappers believe Legis. Tom McKevitt of East Meadow has an inside track.

Either way, Kopel had an endorsement from Donald J. Trump, the current criminal defendant and former president. It turns out that on Truth Social, Trump’s money-bleeding social media app, he posted this effusive praise:

“Howard Kopel of Nassau County is running for County Legislator. He is a fantastic guy who will never let you down. Strong on stopping crime and lowering your taxes, Howie has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

The funniest thing about it is, nobody in GOP circles seemed able to tell The Point for sure just who advised the 45th president, who at 77 is running for a third time, to give the amiable, bipartisan-style Kopel the nod. Sources who speak to the veteran lawmaker said that when the posting popped out on Nov. 5 at 9:35 p.m., two days before the election, someone “sent it” to Kopel who was “completely surprised” by it. It’s unclear whether the two ever met, and Kopel wasn’t immediately available to tell. Surely, it wasn’t the kind of district in the region where such an affiliation might have been feared to backfire. Trump is said to be quite popular in the 7th L.D. where the 72-year-old Kopel defeated Tanvir Ahmad, the Democratic nominee, after a relatively mellow campaign, by a handy 79% to 21%.

“I was aware of it,” said one county GOP official. “But as to how it came about I cannot tell you.” It’s a footnote to a quiet off-cycle election.

— Dan Janison

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