CLAIM: An image of U.S. Rep. George Santos in a gray sweater and blue jacket is a mugshot taken Wednesday after he was indicted on federal charges.
THE FACTS: No mugshot has been released. The image circulating on social media is a cropped and edited version of a news photo taken on Jan. 10, outside a House Republican Conference meeting in the U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Department of Justice generally does not release mugshots as a matter of policy, a spokesperson confirmed. Yet social media users spread the image online, falsely claiming it is his mugshot.
“Whatever you do, please don’t retweet this brand new mugshot of Trumper Congressman George Santos,” read one since-deleted tweet. Santos has pleaded not guilty on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making false statements to Congress. But the image has nothing to do with his case. It matches a photo that was taken in January by a staff photographer for CQ Roll Call, a congressional news outlet, and shows Santos outside a House Republican Conference meeting in the U.S. Capitol.
The version spreading on social media is cropped to show only Santos’ head and shoulders. Certain details, such as his clothing and the position of his hair, match the original exactly, but it appears that the social media version was edited to give Santos more of a frown and to decrease the color saturation. Video and photos of Santos outside the Central Islip, N.Y., courthouse where he was arraigned Wednesday show he was wearing a brown sweater and no tie, rather than the gray top and blue tie in the supposed mugshot. Danielle Hass, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney of the Eastern District of New York, told the AP that “it’s against DOJ policy” to release mugshots. The only exception, as the agency’s website outlines, is “when there is a law enforcement purpose for doing so like in a fugitive situation.”
— Associated Press writer Melissa Goldin in New York contributed this report.