George Santos evades Brazilian reporters' questions by pretending he can't speak Portuguese
George Santos (Photo by Wade Vandervort for AFP)

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) tried to fake not being able to speak Portuguese when confronted with Brazilian reporters' questions about his lawyer in that country serving time for a gang-related offense, reported The Daily Beast.

Jonymar Vasconcelos, whom Santos hired to represent him in a Brazilian fraud case dating back to 2008 in which Santos is accused of using a stolen checkbook, is "not affiliated with any law firm and does not list contact information online," reported Dan Ladden-Hall — making it unclear how Santos even met him or decided to use his legal services.

Vasconcelos "was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2007 for his role in the fatal shooting of a mechanic three years earlier, São Paulo’s Folha newspaper reported Wednesday," said the report. "Vasconcelos, who was reportedly paid for the hit, went with three other men to the home of Aristeu Vieira de Mattos in the early hours of Dec. 3, 2004. Vasconcelos, who was in Brazil’s Navy at the time, remained on a motorcycle while the killing took place, the newspaper reports. In 2009 he was moved to house arrest and began studying law."

According to the report, when Folha reporters tried to ask Santos questions about Vasconcelos, "Santos replied that he doesn’t understand Portuguese — despite speaking Portuguese fluently in interviews — and then did not respond to questions sent in English."

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Brazilian prosecutors reopened the fraud case against Santos, long dormant, after his election to Congress in New York, and subsequent national coverage of scandals about his fabricated personal life story, put him back in the spotlight.

In addition to the case in Brazil, Santos faces multiple investigations in the United States. The Nassau County District Attorney opened a probe into him in December. Meanwhile, the Justice Department asked the Federal Election Commission to refrain from any enforcement actions against Santos for his suspicious campaign finance statements — which experts have said is a sign federal prosecutors are pursuing their own criminal investigation of Santos. The FBI is also investigating Santos' "animal rescue charity" venture following reports he tried to scam $3,000 out of a GoFundMe intended for a homeless veteran's dog.