GOP Rep.-Elect Santos’ claims about mother’s death questioned

By Kyle Blaine and Em Steck | CNN

As Rep.-elect George Santos continues to face scrutiny for false claims the New York Republican has made about his biography, another story is being questioned: that his mother was at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and that the incident played a role in her death.

In particular, two tweets sent from Santos’ account in 2021 and first reported by journalist Yashar Ali on Wednesday are raising questions about the veracity of the story.

In a July 2021 tweet, Santos said, “9/11 claimed my mothers life.” But months later, he reflected on the five-year anniversary of his mother’s death in 2016.

Santos’ campaign website also makes reference to the story but claims his mother survived the attacks and passed away “a few years later” from cancer.

“George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer,” the website states.

In a December 17, 2021, radio interview on “The Voice of Reason with Andy Hooser,” Santos said that his mother got “caught up in the ash cloud” on 9/11 and that she did not sign up to get financial relief because she didn’t want to take money away from first responders.

“She was in the south tower, and she made it out. She got caught up in the ash cloud. My mom fought cancer till her death,” Santos said.

“She never applied for relief because her, her motto was, ‘I can afford it. We’re fortunate. We can take care of all our, our medical bills. If I take it, I’m taking it away from these men and women who need it and who put their lives on the line,’” Santos added.

It’s unclear if Santos’ mother, Fatima A.C.H. Devolder, was present at the World Trade Center on 9/11, as he claims. An obituary posted online says she passed away on December 23, 2016, more than 15 years after 9/11, at Elmhurst Hospital Hospice in New York.

Many 9/11 first responders and survivors developed health conditions after inhaling contaminated air from the collapsed twin towers.

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Santos has previously claimed his mother was a financial executive, although that description has since been removed from his website. NBC News, citing public records, reported that her only employment history was at a Queens-based imports company that went under in 1994.

CNN has reached out to representatives for Santos for comment.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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