There are lies and liars and then there's U.S. Rep. George Santos.

Last week, news broke that the Justice Department wants the Federal Election Commission to delay taking action against the New York Republican. The congressman has faced mounting criticism and legal woes for his serial falsehoods. The FEC, which is a civil agency, has been scrutinizing his campaign finance paperwork. This news indicates the Justice Department is conducting a criminal probe.

Normally, newly elected members of Congress don't make much of an impression. But Santos is national news because he seems to be allergic to the truth in a way that makes even veteran politicians blush.

Shortly after his November victory, his biography began falling apart. He claimed previous employment at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. He highlighted degrees from New York University and Baruch College. But in mid-December, the New York Times reported that none of those organizations had a record of him. Santos then admitted "résumé embellishment" but insisted there wasn't anything more to the story. "I'm not a criminal who defrauded the entire country and made up the fictional character and ran for Congress," he said an interview with WABC.

But a fictional character seems to be the only way to describe Santos' representation of himself. He said his mother was in the South Tower on 9/11 and died a few years later. She didn't pass away until 2016. He claimed he had Jewish grandparents from Ukraine who fled persecution during World War II. Evidence now shows those grandparents were born in Brazil and were likely Catholic. It seems he created a backstory that would help him win election by ignoring the truth.

Santos ran as an openly gay Republican. The Daily Beast reported that he appeared to have divorced a woman in 2019. Just days later, he launched an ultimately unsuccessful bid for office in 2020. A disabled veteran accused Santos of running off with $3,000 that was raised to save his dying dog.

Oh, there's more. The Security and Exchange Commission is interested in his role in Harbor City Capital, which the SEC previously accused of being a "classic Ponzi scheme." The FEC is curious about the source of a $700,000 loan Santos made to his campaign.

Republicans have a narrow margin in the lower chamber and don't want to lose even a single vote. But standing up for integrity would be the right thing to do. Santos' alternative reality extends well beyond typical political embellishment. Congress may not have many standards when it comes to honesty, but it should have some.

Expulsion or impeachment are exceedingly rare. But Speaker Kevin McCarthy should make clear they are on the table if Santos refuses to resign.